The LSU Tigers football program, also known as the Fighting Tigers, represents Louisiana State University in the sport of American football. The Tigers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
LSU ranks 16th most in victories in NCAA Division I FBS history and claims three National Championships (1958, 2003 and 2007), 15 conference championships, and 35 consensus All-Americans. As of the beginning of the 2018 NFL season, 40 former LSU players were on active rosters in the NFL, the second most of any college program.
Louisiana State University (LSU) played its first football game in school history on November 25, 1893, losing to rival Tulane in the first intercollegiate contest in Louisiana. The game sparked a rivalry between the Tigers and the Green Wave that has lasted generations. The Tigers were coached by university professor Dr. Charles E. Coates, known for his work in the chemistry of sugar. Future Louisiana governor Ruffin G. Pleasant was the quarterback and captain of the LSU team. In the first game against Tulane, LSU football players wore purple and gold ribbons on their uniforms. According to legend, purple and gold were chosen because they were Mardi Gras colors, and the green was sold out. The rules of play in 1893 were more like rugby than what might be considered modern football.
LSU achieved its first victory by beating Natchez Athletic Club 26–0 in 1894. Samuel Marmaduke Dinwidie Clark has the honor of scoring the very first touchdown in LSU history. The first football game played on the LSU campus was at State Field on December 3, 1894, a loss against Mississippi. LSU's only touchdown in that game was scored by the head coach, Albert Simmons. This was the first year of play for William S. Slaughter who lettered as an end for 5 years (1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898). Slaughter was LSU's first five time football letterman. By 1895, LSU had its first win in Baton Rouge.
The 1896 team was the first to be called the "Tigers" and went undefeated, winning the school's first conference championship in the school's first year as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the first southern athletics conference. Coach Allen Jeardeau returned for his second but final year at LSU in 1897 for two games in Baton Rouge. A yellow fever outbreak throughout the South caused the postponement of LSU's classes starting, and the football season being cut back to only two games.
Another outbreak of yellow fever similar to the one in 1897 caused LSU to play only one game in 1898. By the time LSU was able to play its only game of the season, Allen Jeardeau had departed from the school as head football coach, and no provision had been made to replace him. The job of coach then fell to the team's captain, Edmond Chavanne.
New coach John P. Gregg led the Tigers to a 1–4 season in 1899, including a loss to the "iron men" of Sewanee. The only wins were in an exhibition game against a high school team—which LSU does not officially record as a win—and against rival, Tulane.
Chavanne was rehired in 1900, posting a 2–2 record. He was replaced by W. S. Borland as head coach in 1901, who led the team to a successful 5–1 season. After a 22–2 loss to Tulane, LSU protested to the SIAA and alleged that Tulane had used a professional player during the game. Several months later, the SIAA ruled the game an 11–0 forfeit in favor of LSU. The seven-game 1902 season was the longest yet for the Tigers and also featured the most games on the road. The 1903 season broke the previous season's record, with nine games. Dan A. Killian coached the team from 1904 to 1906. Running back René A. Messa made the All-Southern team in 1904.
Edgar Wingard coached the team in 1907 and 1908. In 1907, LSU became the first American college football team to play on foreign soil in the 1907 Bacardi Bowl against the University of Havana on Christmas Day in Havana, Cuba. LSU won 56–0. John Seip ran back a 67-yard punt return.
The 1908 team posted an undefeated 10–0 record. Quarterback Doc Fenton led the nation in scoring with 132 points. He threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Mike Lally in the win over Auburn. The National Championship Foundation retroactively awarded 1908 LSU the national championship though it is not claimed by LSU. This season also led to an SIAA championship; but was clouded by accusations of professionalism from rival school Tulane. Auburn and Vanderbilt were among those listed as alternative conference champions.
1910 was a disastrous year for the Tigers. After a strong 1909 campaign which saw their only conference loss come to SIAA champion Sewanee, the team lost some star power with Lally, Seip, and center Robert L. Stovall all graduating. In 1912, coach Pat Dwyer developed a "kangaroo play" in which back Lawrence Dupont would crawl between offensive lineman Tom Dutton's legs; supposedly very effective in short yardage situations. Fullback Alf Reid made the All-Southern team in 1913.
LSU's largest loss margin came on October 31, 1914 in a game against Texas A&M in Dallas, Texas. In 1916, three coaches led the team for parts of the season. The coaches were E. T. MacDonnell, Irving Pray, and College Football Hall of Fame coach Dana X. Bible. Due to World War I, no games were scheduled or played for the 1918 season by LSU. Pray also served as head coach full seasons in 1919 and 1922, compiling a total record of 11–9 at LSU. In 1923, Mike Donahue left Auburn to become the seventeenth head football coach at LSU. 1924 saw the first game played at the newly built Tiger Stadium, with an original seating capacity of 12,000. Donahue retired after the 1927 season. Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin recommended Russ Cohen for the LSU coaching job, which he accepted in 1928. That season, offensive tackle Jess Tinsley made the All-Southern team. In 1931 LSU played its first night game in Tiger Stadium, a 31–0 victory over Spring Hill. In Biff Jones' first season as head coach, the 1932 team tied for the Southern Conference championship in its last season as a member of the conference. The season included a five-game winning streak in which LSU outscored its opponents by a combined 162–0.
Under head coach Bernie Moore, LSU won their first Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship finishing with a 5–0 conference record and 9–2–0 overall in 1935. LSU played in their first Sugar Bowl game, falling to #4 TCU 3–2 at Tulane Stadium. The Tigers and Horned Frogs both took home the Williamson Poll national championship, which is not claimed by LSU. The team was led by Abe Mickal and Gaynell Tinsley, cousin of Jess. The 1936 team won the school's second SEC Championship finishing with a 6-0 conference record and 9–1–1 overall. The Tigers finished runner-up to Minnesota in the AP Poll. LSU won the Williamson Poll and Sagarin Ratings national championships, which are not claimed by the school. LSU's largest margin of victory, and most points scored in a football game came on November 21, in a game at Tiger Stadium against USL (University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). The final score was LSU 93, USL 0. The 1937 team featured Ken Kavanaugh and was upset by Vanderbilt using a hidden ball trick, the school's first-ever victory over a ranked opponent.
The 1946 team played in one of the most notable instances of the Cotton Bowl Classic – "Ice Bowl." LSU, led by head coach Moore and quarterback Y. A. Tittle, entered the game against Arkansas with a 9–1 record. Ice, sleet and snow pelted the stadium as LSU players filled oil drums with charcoal and started fires for makeshift heaters while fans built fires in the stands. LSU dominated the game with a 271–54 advantage in total yards and 15–1 advantage in first downs, but that didn't equate to the numbers on the scoreboard. The game ended in a 0–0 tie and LSU finished the season 9–1–1.
In 1955, Paul Dietzel became the head coach at LSU. During Dietzel's first three years, none of his teams had a winning season. In 1958, however, Dietzel came up with a unique "three-platoon system." Instead of replacing individual players during the game, Dietzel would bring in an entirely new set of players between plays and series. The three teams were called the White Team (the first-string offense and defense), the Go Team (the second-string offense), and the Chinese Bandits (the second-string defense). The system worked, as the 1958 team won the school's first claimed national championship, beating No. 12 Clemson 7–0 in the Sugar Bowl. The only score was a pass from Billy Cannon to sophomore Mickey Mangham, one of the smallest players on the team.
Cannon won the Heisman Trophy in 1959. On Halloween, late in the game between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Ole Miss, LSU was trailing 3–0. Cannon returned a punt 89 yards for a TD, breaking seven tackles. This has become known as Cannon's Halloween Run. The Rebels then drove down the field but were stopped on the LSU 1-yard line as the game ended resulting in a 7–3 victory for LSU in Tiger Stadium. In the Sugar Bowl, one of the most anticipated rematches in college football history took place. This game, however, would not be the classic that transpired only weeks before. Ole Miss dominated the game from start to finish and came away with a decisive 21–0 win over the Tigers. LSU finished the season having only given up 29 points.
In 1972, No. 6 LSU survived an upset bid from unranked Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium by winning the game on a TD pass from QB Bert Jones to RB Brad Davis. Ole Miss fans say the 1972 contest featured a few seconds of free football. The Tigers trailed the Rebels 16–10 with four seconds to play. After a lengthy incompletion by Jones, the game clock still showed one second remaining. The Tigers used the precious second to win the game on the "last play," 17–16. A song was written to commemorate the game, called "One Second Blues", (track #11) which is featured on the CD "Hey Fightin' Tigers". The alleged home-clock advantage inspired a sign at the Louisiana state line (as you left Mississippi) reading, "You are now entering Louisiana. Set your clocks back four seconds."
LSU defeated Alabama 20–10 in Birmingham, Alabama in what was Bear Bryant's last game coaching against LSU, in 1982. LSU's defense held Alabama to 119 yards of total offense, as the Tigers defeated the Tide for the first time since 1970. Later that week, LSU's defensive front seven of Melancon and Joiner (OLBs); Richardson and Williams (ILBs); and Marshall, Elko and Dardar (DL) were named the "Associated Press Sportswriters' Defensive Player of the Week." It was the first time an entire front-seven unit was so named.
In 1988, unranked LSU staged a near-literal, earth-shattering upset victory over No. 4 Auburn in Tiger Stadium, winning the game 7–6 with 1:41 remaining on a touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Hodson to running back Eddie Fuller. The reaction of the crowd was so immense that it registered as an earthquake on a seismograph in LSU's Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex. It has been dubbed the "Earthquake Game."
Wearing its white jerseys at home in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1982, LSU upset No. 5 Auburn in 1995, winning the game 12–6 as LSU DB Troy Twillie intercepted Auburn QB Patrick Nix's 11-yard pass into the end zone with no time remaining. This game marked a return to national significance in just head coach Gerry DiNardo's first season.
After nine straight losses to Steve Spurrier-led Florida, the No. 14 Tigers shocked the No. 1-ranked defending national champion Gators 28–21 in Tiger Stadium in 1997, making the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was the first time LSU beat a No. 1 ranked team and the first time the goalposts were ever torn down in Tiger Stadium.
In head coach Nick Saban's first season of 2000, LSU returned to national prominence by beating No. 11 Tennessee in overtime 38–31 on ESPN, after which the goal posts were torn down for only the second time in the history of Tiger Stadium. The victory over Tennessee also marked the first time that LSU played in an overtime game at home. Just a few weeks later, the goal posts were again ripped down as LSU beat Alabama 30–28 on CBS in Baton Rouge for the first time in 31 years. This was the third and final time that the goal posts came down in Death Valley. In 2001, No. 21 LSU staged an upset victory over No. 2 Tennessee in the SEC Championship, winning 31–20. The victory earned LSU a spot in its first Sugar Bowl since 1986, and knocked the Volunteers out of national title contention. No. 16 LSU survived an upset bid from unranked Kentucky in 2002 by winning the game 33–30 on a 75-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired known as the "Bluegrass Miracle." Kentucky coach Guy Morriss had received the traditional Gatorade bath right before the Hail Mary. Kentucky fans, believing they had won, had already rushed the field and torn down one goal post.
In 2003, No. 11 LSU outlasted No. 7 Georgia, 17–10. With ESPN College Gameday on hand for the first time since 1997, Quarterback Matt Mauck found wide receiver Skyler Green for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:03 remaining in the game. All-American cornerback Corey Webster sealed the victory with an interception in the final minute. LSU won its second title and became the BCS national champion by defeating Oklahoma and their highly touted Heisman Quarterback, Jason White, 21–14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
In Les Miles's first season as LSU head coach, the Tigers home opener against Arizona State was moved to Sun Devil Stadium due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. With one end zone painted with "www.KatrinaSRF.com" and the other with "Together We Stand" along with logos of the states of Louisiana and Arizona, LSU rallied in the fourth quarter for a 35–31 comeback victory.
No. 2 LSU played what was hyped as one of the most exciting games ever played in Tiger Stadium against No. 9 Florida in 2007. The game is also known for the LSU students leaving thousands of messages on the phone of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, prompting him to give a "telephone" hand gesture to the LSU student section following an early touchdown. Florida began the fourth quarter with a 24–14 lead, but behind solid defense and being a perfect 5 for 5 on fourth down conversions, the Tigers were able to take the lead 28–24 with 1:06 left in the game after a Jacob Hester touchdown to defeat the Gators. It was LSU's first national primetime game on CBS since 1981. LSU went on to defeat No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS national championship 38–24, becoming the first school to win two BCS national championship titles and improving their BCS record to 4–0, the best of any team. They also became the first two loss team to ever play in the BCS national championship.
The ninth regulation game of the 2011 season for LSU found the number 1 nationally ranked Tigers against the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a match called "The Game of the Century" or the "Matchup of the Year". Both teams were undefeated and both were also coming off a bye week; viewed as important to the BCS Championship Game as the "inside track" by many of the sportswriters, the press built up the game in a Super Bowl-style atmosphere. Ultimately, the game came down to field position and a series of field goals as the top-ranked defenses of both teams prevented any touchdowns. Alabama missed three field goals and a fourth was blocked during regulation, leading to a 6–6 tie heading into overtime. On the first possession of overtime, Alabama again missed a field goal from 52 yards out, only to watch LSU earn the win on the next possession with a chip-shot field goal. As a result, it was the second-lowest scoring match-up between number 1 and number 2 teams in the history of the NCAA, with a 9–6 decision. For the first time in BCS National Championship history, two SEC teams, number 1 LSU and number 2 Alabama again faced each other in the National Championship Game. Alabama won the game, 21–0. The SEC-only title game added impetus to the push for a national playoff system and hastened the death of the BCS system as implemented up to that time.
On September 25, 2016, Miles was fired after losing to the Auburn Tigers as quarterback Danny Etling failed to snap the ball before time expired which negated what would have been the game winning touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Chark. Ed Orgeron was named interim head coach. Miles compiled a win–loss record of 114–34 (.770) with LSU.
Ed Orgeron was named permanent head coach on November 26, 2016. In 2017, Ed Orgeron's first full season as head coach, LSU compiled a record of 9–4 overall and 6–2 in the SEC. Orgeron's tenure as permanent head coach began with a rocky start as an early home loss to non-conference opponent, Troy, sparked national criticism. Orgeron then followed this with a home victory against the 10th ranked Auburn Tigers which reduced some of the media discussion regarding Orgeron being on the hot seat. LSU finished the season with a loss in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame.
- Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1893–1922)
- Southern Conference (1923–1932)
- Southeastern Conference (1933–present)
Claimed national championships
1958 national championshipThe 1958 LSU Tigers football team under head coach Paul Dietzel, cruised to an undefeated season capped by a win over Clemson in the 1959 Sugar Bowl. LSU was named the national champion in both the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll prior to their 7-0 Sugar Bowl victory over Clemson. It was the first recognized national championship for LSU in the poll era.
2003 national championshipThe 2003 LSU Tigers football team was coached by Nick Saban. LSU won the BCS National Championship, the first national championship for LSU since 1958. The Tigers battled for an 11–1 regular season record and then defeated Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The LSU Tigers faced off against Oklahoma for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national title. LSU beat Oklahoma 21–14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl designated as the BCS National Championship Game.
2007 national championshipThe 2007 LSU Tigers football team, coached by Les Miles, won the Southeastern Conference championship and the national championship with a 12–2 record. The LSU Tigers took on the top ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game defeating them 38–24. This win made the LSU Tigers the first team to win two BCS National Championships in its history. On their way to the BCS championship, the Tigers won their tenth Southeastern Conference championship by defeating Tennessee in the 2007 SEC Championship Game. LSU became the first program to win multiple BCS National Championship Games and the second program to win a national championship with multiple losses.
LSU has won a total of 15 conference championships in three different conferences.  Since becoming a founding member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 1933, LSU has won eleven SEC championships.
Logos and uniforms
Helmets Pre-1946, LSU wore leather helmets. From 1947 through 1955, LSU wore an old gold helmet. In 1956, head coach Paul Dietzel changed the color of the helmet to a yellow-gold similar to that of the Green Bay Packers. It featured a white one-inch center stripe with purple three-quarter inch flanking stripes. From 1957 through 1971, LSU added jersey numbers to the sides of the helmet. In 1972, the first logo was introduced, a tiger head inside a purple circle with LSU written underneath the tiger head. In 1977, LSU introduced its current helmet. The logo features curved LSU lettering written above the Tiger head logo. Purple face masks were introduced in 1980. In 2014, LSU introduced a new Tiger head logo.
- In 1997, LSU wore White helmets in the Independence Bowl vs Notre Dame.
- In 2007, LSU wore white helmets in a game against Tulane to promote relief for Hurricane Katrina.
- In 2009, LSU wore "old" gold styled helmets in a game against Arkansas as part of a Nike Pro Combat promotion. The uniforms were donned "Couchon De Lait" which is cajun for pig roast. The name stemmed from LSU's proximity to the cajun culture of the nearby Acadiana area and the mascot of Arkansas being the razorbacks, a type of wild boar or pig.
- In 2011 for a Nike Pro Combat promotion, the Tigers wore a white helmet with old gold and purple stripes to accompany a white uniform.
- In 2015, LSU wore their white helmets in a game against South Carolina that was moved from Williams-Brice Stadium to Tiger Stadium due to the flooding disaster in South Carolina and again at Ole Miss where LSU wore all-white uniforms.
- A special throwback helmet with LSU's original "L" that is still used by their L Club and the jersey number of each player was used in a home game against Mississippi State in 2016 along with a special gold throwback jersey with a custom number font replicating jerseys from the Y. A. Tittle era at LSU.
The current style of jerseys were introduced by coach Paul Dietzel in 1957 with "TV" numerals on the shoulders. Those numbers were moved to the sleeves in 1959. LSU's white jerseys have purple numbers on the front, back and sleeves with a gold center stripe flanked by two purple stripes encircling the shoulders. LSU's purple jerseys have white numbers on the front, back and sleeves with a white center stripe flanked by two yellow stripes encircling the shoulders.
LSU has worn gold jerseys four times: vs. Vanderbilt in 1996, vs. Notre Dame in the 1997 Independence Bowl, at Florida in 1998 and throwbacks vs. Mississippi State in 2016. LSU also wore gold jerseys as their primary jerseys during the 1940s. Save for the throwback jerseys, LSU wore gold due to the intense dislike of purple exhibited by then-LSU coach Gerry DiNardo.
Since the wearing of white jerseys has become a tradition for LSU football, the white jerseys are typically worn for both home and away games. The exception is for non-SEC home games, other than the home opener, where LSU wears purple jerseys. Also, though rare, in the case of away games the home teams may choose to wear white, and if so, purple is the default for LSU.
From 1983 through 1994, LSU was mandated to wear purple jerseys at home, due to an NCAA rule which required the visiting team to wear white jerseys. In 1995, the NCAA changed the rule to allow the home team to wear white if it obtained prior approval of the visiting team. In 1997, the Southeastern Conference ruled the home team would have choice of jersey color without consent of the visitors for conference games.
The team traditionally wears one style of pants, which are gold with white and purple trim. For a 1995 game at Kentucky, the Tigers wore purple pants, which had no stripes and a tiger head logo on the left thigh. LSU lost to the Wildcats 24–16 and the pants were never worn again.
LSU has worn white pants on 10 occasions since 1996:
- Three times with gold jerseys vs. Vanderbilt in 1996, vs. Notre Dame in the 1997 Independence Bowl, and at Florida in 1998.
- In 2016, LSU wore gold throwback jerseys with white pants vs. Mississippi State.
- Three times with purple jerseys, in a 2007 game at Tulane to promote relief for Hurricane Katrina, A 2015 game against South Carolina that was moved from Williams-Brice Stadium to Tiger Stadium due to the flood disaster in that state, and a 2016 home game against Southern Miss.
- Three times with white jerseys, in a 2009 game against Arkansas, a 2011 game against Auburn for a Nike Pro Combat promotion, and a 2015 game at Ole Miss. These uniforms were made to look like white tigers.
5-yard lines – Tiger Stadium is notable for putting all 5-yard line numbers on the field, not just those that are multiples of 10. However, the 10-yard line numbers are the only numbers that get directional arrows, as the rules make no provision for 5-yard line numbers.
H-style goal posts – LSU's Tiger Stadium sports "H" style goal posts, as opposed to the more modern "Y" style used by most other schools today. This "H" style allows the team to run through the goal post in the north end zone when entering the field.
The crossbar from the goalposts which stood in the north end zone of Tiger Stadium from 1955 through 1984 is now mounted above the door which leads from LSU's locker room onto the playing field. The crossbar is painted with the word "WIN!", and superstition dictates every player entering the field touch the bar on his way out the door.
Night games in Tiger Stadium – The tradition of playing night games in Tiger Stadium began on October 3, 1931 when LSU defeated Spring Hill 35-0. Several reasons were cited for playing at night such as avoiding the heat and humidity of afternoon games, avoiding scheduling conflicts with Tulane and Loyola football and giving more fans the opportunity to see the Tigers play. Attendance increased and night football became an LSU tradition. LSU has also traditionally played better during night games based on winning percentage.
Pregame show – Louisiana State University Tiger Marching Band "pregame show" was created in 1964, and revised over the next nine years into its current format. The marching band lines up along the end zone shortly before kick off. Then the band strikes up a drum cadence and begins to spread out evenly across the field. When the front of the band reaches the center of the field, the band stops and begins to play an arrangement of "Pregame" (Hold That Tiger). While it does this, the band turns to salute the fans in all four corners of the stadium. Then the band, resuming its march across the field, begins playing "Touchdown for LSU".
Tailgating – For home football games, thousands of LSU fans gather on the Baton Rouge campus. They set up motor homes and tents as early as Thursday before Saturday football games. Tailgating is found across the entire campus with many fans tailgating in the same spot year after year.
LSU has continually been ranked as the top tailgating location in the country. ESPN.com ranked LSU as the top tailgating destination in America. The Sporting News proclaimed "Saturday Night in Death Valley" and Tiger tailgating as the top tradition in college football. Sports Illustrated said, "When It Comes To Great Tailgating, Nothing Compares To LSU." LSU's tailgating was named No. 1 in an Associated Press poll on top tailgating spots and by a CNN network survey on top tailgating locations.
Victory Gold – In 2012, a new tradition was established at Tiger Stadium. Following an LSU football victory, the lights that illuminate the upper arches on the north end of the stadium light up in LSU "Victory Gold".
Victory Hill – The LSU football players, coaches, cheerleaders and Mike the Tiger in his cage, "Walk Down Victory Hill" on North Stadium Drive prior to each home game on their way to Tiger Stadium. Thousands of fans line both sides of the road to watch and cheer for the Tigers football team. The practice was started under head coach Gerry Dinardo and it endures today.
The LSU Tiger Marching Band or The Golden Band from Tigerland, Golden Girls and Colorguard, "March Down Victory Hill" about an hour prior to each home game. Fans line both sides of the road and listen for the cadence of drums announcing the band's departure from the Greek Theatre and await the arrival of the band. The band stops on top of Victory Hill and begins to play their drum cadence while beginning to march down Victory Hill. The band then stops on Victory Hill and begins to play the opening strains of the "Pregame Salute." Then, while playing the introduction to "Touchdown for LSU," the band begins to run in tempo through the streets and down the hill amidst the crowd of cheering fans. From there, the band enters the PMAC and plays a pep ralley for TAF members.
White jerseys – LSU is notable as one of the few college football teams that wears white jerseys for home games as opposed to their darker jerseys (in their case, purple). Most other NCAA football teams wear their darker jerseys in home games, even though football is one of the few college sports that do not require a specific jersey type for each respective team (for instance, college basketball requires home teams to wear white or light-colored jerseys while the away team wears their darker jerseys), and is similar to the National Football League in letting the home team decide what to wear.
The tradition started in 1958, when Coach Paul Dietzel decided that LSU would wear white jerseys for home games. Another story is the tradition first started when Dietzel had LSU wear white at home for good luck against a ranked Georgia Tech team in 1957 because Georgia Tech's team had long been known for wearing white at home. LSU won the game and he continued that tradition for the 1958 season and LSU went on to win the national championship that year. Since the 1958 championship season, LSU continued to wear white jerseys at home games through the 18-year tenure of Charles McClendon. Then in 1983, new NCAA rules prohibited teams from wearing white jerseys at home. Because of this, LSU wore purple jerseys during home games from 1983 to 1994. The team's fans believed wearing purple jerseys were "bad luck" and often complained about being forced to wear purple jerseys at home.
In 1995, LSU's new coach, Gerry DiNardo, was determined to restore LSU's tradition of white home jerseys. DiNardo personally met with each member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, lobbying LSU's case. DiNardo was successful, and LSU again began wearing white jerseys at home when the 1995 season began. In LSU's first home game with the white jerseys, unranked LSU prevailed in a 12–6 upset victory over No. 6 Auburn.
The 1995 rule allowing LSU to wear white at home had one stipulation: the visiting team must agree for conference and non-conference games. In 1997, the SEC amended its rule to allow the home team its choice of jersey color for conference games without prior approval of the visiting team. Therefore, only for non-conference home games does the home team seek permission to wear white jerseys at home. In 2009, the NCAA further relaxed the previous rule that required most away teams to wear white. The rule now states that teams must simply wear contrasting colors.
After the 1995 rule change, on three occasions LSU was forced to wear colored jerseys at Tiger Stadium. The first time was in 1996 against Vanderbilt, who was still angry at LSU for hiring Gerry DiNardo, who left Vanderbilt to become LSU's head coach after the 1994 season. LSU wore gold jerseys for that game (a 35–0 LSU victory), and fans were encouraged to wear white in an effort to "white out" the Commodores. The other was in 2004 when Oregon State did not want to suffer in its black jerseys due to the humid weather of Louisiana in late summer, thus forcing LSU to wear its purple jerseys for a nationally televised game on ESPN. On October 10, 2015, LSU was scheduled to play a road conference game at South Carolina, but due to massive flooding in the state of South Carolina, the game was relocated from Columbia to Baton Rouge. Despite the game being played at Tiger Stadium, South Carolina was still the designated home team and had first choice of jersey selection. South Carolina chose to wear white as they had originally planned, forcing LSU to wear their purple jerseys at Tiger Stadium for an SEC game for the first time since 1994.
After the 1995 rule change, LSU was forced to wear colored jerseys on the road on four occasions. In 1998 and 2000, Florida coach Steve Spurrier exercised this option and forced LSU to don a colored jersey at Gainesville. The Tigers wore gold in 1998 under Gerry DiNardo (lost 22–10) and purple in 2000 under Nick Saban (lost 41–9). In 2007 and 2009, LSU also wore its purple jerseys on the road at Mississippi State, but the Tigers emerged victorious both times (45–0 in 2007 and 30–26 in 2009).
First, second, and third-down cheers – When the Tigers are on offense and earn a first down, the fans perform the "First Down Cheer". It includes the "Hold that Tiger" musical phrase from "Tiger Rag" played by the LSU band and the fans shout "Geaux Tigers" at the end of each phrase. The "Second Down Cheer" is a musical selection that is followed by the crowd chanting L-S-U! The "Third Down Cheer" is based on the song "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.
Geaux Tigers – A common cheer for all LSU athletics, Geaux Tigers, pronounced "Go Tigers", is derived from a common ending in Cajun French names, -eaux. Fans began using this spelling in the 1990s to add local flavor to the standard cheer. The phrase was trademarked by the university in 2005.
Hot Boudin – A cheer before and during games about famous food in Louisiana. It goes " Hot boudin, cold coush-coush, come on tigers, push push push." Push is pronounced poosh to rhyme with coush-coush [koosh-koosh]. Coush-coush is a Cajun dish generally served for breakfast.
Tiger bait – LSU fans will yell "Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait" at visiting fans.
Tiger Bandits – Whenever LSU forces a turnover or gets the ball back via a defensive stop, the LSU band plays the Tiger Bandits song and LSU fans bow in respect to the defensive stop. The original title of the song was called "Chinese Bandits", but the title was eventually changed to "Tiger Bandits" (or just simply "Bandits") to make the tradition more inclusive. The term "Chinese Bandits" originated as the nickname that LSU Coach Paul Dietzel gave to the defensive unit he organized in 1958, which helped LSU to win its first national championship. The next season, the 1959 Chinese Bandit defense held their opponents to an average of only 143.2 yards per game. No LSU defense since has done better.
Jersey No. 18 is an LSU tradition established in 2003 when quarterback Matt Mauck guided LSU to a national championship. After Mauck's final season, he passed jersey No. 18 to running back Jacob Hester, who helped LSU win the 2007 national championship. The jersey became synonymous with success on and off the field as well as having a selfless attitude. Each season, a player is chosen by the coaching staff to wear the No. 18 jersey. In 2017, it was the first year LSU awarded the jersey to two players, one each on offense and defense.
- 2003: Matt Mauck, quarterback
- 2004–2007: Jacob Hester, running back
- 2008–2009: Richard Dickson, tight end
- 2010: Richard Murphy, running back
- 2011: Brandon Taylor, safety
- 2012: Bennie Logan, defensive tackle
- 2013: Lamin Barrow, linebacker
- 2014: Terrence Magee, running back
- 2015–2016: Tre'Davious White, cornerback
- 2017: Christian LaCouture, defensive end and J. D. Moore, fullback
- 2018: Foster Moreau, tight end
- 2019: Lloyd Cushenberry, center and K'Lavon Chaisson, linebacker
In recent years, LSU has had a high number of defensive backs earn recognition for their play, leading to both current and former players to refer to the school as "Defensive Back University", or "DBU". This has led to a sense of pride among LSU defensive backs, who strive to continue the tradition of excellence at the position. Since 2005, 18 LSU defensive backs have been drafted into the NFL, including six in the first round: LaRon Landry (6th pick in 2007), Patrick Peterson (5th pick in 2011), Morris Claiborne (6th pick in 2012), Eric Reid (18th pick in 2013), Jamal Adams (6th pick in 2017), and Tre'Davious White (27th pick in 2017).
LSU and Alabama have played every year since the 1960s, with Alabama holding a historic edge in the series, 53–25–5. It has been mentioned by the LSU fan base, the origins of the rivalry date back to a 15-game undefeated streak Alabama had in Tiger Stadium, which is generally considered to be one of the most hostile atmospheres in college football. While the Alabama rivalries against Auburn and Tennessee may overshadow their rivalry with LSU, the significance of this annual rivalry increased after Alabama hired former LSU coach Nick Saban in 2007. The LSU-Alabama rivalry continued after the November 5, 2011 game and the 2012 National Championship where the two teams faced off. Alabama currently owns an eight-game winning streak over LSU.
After the Razorbacks left the Southwest Conference in 1990, Arkansas joined the SEC in 1991 and began a yearly rivalry with LSU. During their first year in the SEC, Arkansas would defeat LSU for the first time, since 1929, the razorbacks first win over LSU in Fayetteville. The winner takes home the Golden Boot, a trophy in the shape of the states of Arkansas and Louisiana that resembles a boot. The trophy was created by the SEC to try to help develop fan and player interest in the new rivalry. The game, played the day after Thanksgiving until the 2010 season, was usually the last regular season game for each team and is broadcast on CBS. In 2002, the rivalry gained momentum as the game winner would represent the Western Division of the SEC in the SEC Championship Game. Arkansas won on a last second touchdown pass by Matt Jones. In 2006, the Razorbacks, who had already clinched the SEC Western Division and were on a 10-game winning streak, were beaten by LSU in Little Rock. In 2007, Arkansas defeated top-ranked LSU in triple overtime, giving them their first win in Baton Rouge since 1993, and again defended the Golden Boot trophy with a last minute touchdown drive in 2008. Fifteenth-ranked LSU won back the trophy for the first time in two years in 2009 after Razorback kicker Alex Tejada missed a field goal that would have sent the game into a second overtime, and LSU went on to the Capital One Bowl. In 2011, with both teams ranked in the top 3 in the AP Poll, #1 LSU would demolish #3 Arkansas by a score 41-17, sending LSU to the SEC title game.
While Auburn's rivalries against Alabama and Georgia may overshadow its rivalry with LSU, in the 2000s, LSU had a heated rivalry with the Auburn Tigers. The two share more than just a nickname, as they have both enjoyed success in the SEC's Western Division and plenty of memorable match ups. Either Auburn or LSU has won at least a share of the SEC Western Division championship for eight of the last eleven years. The home team won every game from 2000 through 2007.
Although both universities were founding members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in December 1932, the Florida Gators and Tigers did not meet on the gridiron for the first time until 1937. LSU is Florida's permanent inter-divisional rival. LSU has played Florida every year since 1971. Florida leads the series 32–29–3. The longest winning streak in the LSU–Florida series is held by Florida, with nine victories from 1988 to 1996. LSU's longest winning streak is four, from 1977 to 1980. The winner of the Florida-LSU game went on to win the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championship game from 2006 to 2008. Some of the notable games in this rivalry include the 1960: Wristband Robbery, 1964: Hurricane Delay, 1972: Flooded Swamp, 1989: College Football's First Overtime Game, 1997: LSU's Revenge, 2006: Tebow Domination, 2007: 5 for 5 on fourth down, and 2016: Hurricane Delay Pt 2.
With a few exceptions, this rivalry has been known for close games in recent years, with both teams usually coming into the match-up highly ranked. The Gators and Tigers have combined to win five national championships and eleven SEC titles over the past two decades.
The LSU–Mississippi State rivalry, is an annual football game between the Louisiana State Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs. Both universities are founding members of the Southeastern Conference, as well as the Western Division. This rivalry is LSU's longest rivalry with 108 meetings. LSU is second only to Ole Miss (3 games behind) on Mississippi St.’s list of most-commonly played opponents. The Tigers lead the series 73–34–3.
Mississippi State's 34–29 victory on September 20, 2014 was the Bulldogs' first over LSU since 1999, their first in Baton Rouge since 1991, and just their fourth overall since 1985.
LSU's traditional SEC rival is Ole Miss. Throughout the fifties and sixties, games between the two schools featured highly ranked squads on both sides and seemingly every contest had conference, and at times national, title implications. The Magnolia Bowl Trophy is now awarded to the winner of the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry now known as the "Magnolia Bowl". Recently, the second to last regular season game has been between these two colleges. There is still a strong rivalry between both schools.
From 1961 through 1988, LSU did not play on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi. Instead, all of the Rebels' home dates in the series were contested at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. LSU and Ole Miss played at Oxford in 1989 for the first time in 29 seasons, then moved the series permanently to Vaught–Hemingway Stadium in 1994 after the 1991 and 1992 contests returned to Jackson.
LSU and Texas A&M have faced each other in two bowl games. LSU won in the 1944 Orange Bowl 19–14, while LSU prevaled 41–24 in the 2011 Cotton Bowl Classic. From 1945 to 1973, LSU was 17–3–1 vs Texas A&M. LSU leads the series 33–21–3.
LSU's oldest rival is Tulane; the first LSU-Tulane football game was played in 1893 and for the first fifty or so years of Tiger football, no team was more hated by LSU fans than the Green Wave. The series, in which they battle for the Tiger Rag, was played continuously from 1919 to 1994. The intrastate rivalry featured two teams which were geographically close (Baton Rouge and New Orleans are roughly 80 miles (130 km) apart) and drew on socio-political tensions between the state's capital and seat of government and its biggest and most culturally important city. As opponents in the SIAA, Southern Conference and SEC, the Tulane rivalry flourished for many years but slowly declined after Tulane left the SEC and de-emphasized athletics. Until 1949, the series was very competitive, with LSU leading 23–18–5; since 1949, LSU has dominated, going 45–4–2. The two teams renewed the annual series in 2006 and ended it again after the 2009 meeting.
The LSU Tigers football team finished in the Top 25 in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
The LSU Tigers football team finished the season ranked #1 in the Final Associated Press Poll (AP Poll) in 1958 and 2007. The Tigers were ranked #1 in the Final Coaches' Poll in 1958, 2003 and 2007. The Tigers also finished #2 in the Final AP Poll in 2003 and 2011 and the Final Coaches Poll in 2011.
LSU has played in 50 bowl games, compiling a record of 26–23–1. The Tigers have played in 19 straight bowl games since 2000, the fourth longest active streak in the NCAA and second longest in the Southeastern Conference.
† Unanimous selection
Starting in 1994, the Southeastern Conference has annually honored one former football player from each of the member schools as an "SEC Legend".
LSU and the NFL
The LSU Tigers football team has had 318 players drafted into the National Football League (NFL). This includes 38 players taken in the first round and two overall number one picks: Billy Cannon in the 1960 NFL Draft and 1960 AFL Draft, and Jamarcus Russell in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Hall of Fame inductees
Five former LSU football players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One former LSU player is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
LSU has had nine players and five head coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tiger Stadium is the 102,321 capacity home of the LSU Tigers football team. The stadium is the sixth largest on-campus stadium in the NCAA and the ninth largest stadium in the world. The current record attendance of 102,321 was set on September 20, 2014 when LSU played host to Mississippi State. Tiger Stadium contains 70 skyboxes, called "Tiger Den" suites and a 3,200 seat club level named "The Stadium Club". The Paul Manasseh Press Box is located in the west upper-deck. On April 27, 2012, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of a $80 million south end-zone upper deck expansion that added approximately 60 "Tiger Den" suites, 3,000 club seats and 1,500 general public seats to bring the total capacity of Tiger Stadium to 102,321, making it the 6th-largest college football stadium in the country.
Tiger Stadium first opened its gates in the fall of 1924 with a seating capacity of 12,000. In the season finale, LSU hosted Tulane in the first game. As of the 2012 season, LSU has gone on to post a 384-143-18 (.722) mark in Tiger Stadium. Moreover, Tiger Stadium is also known for night games, an idea that was first introduced in 1931 against Spring Hill (a 35-0 LSU victory). In 2006, LSU celebrated its 75th year of playing night football in Tiger Stadium. LSU has played the majority of its games at night, and the Tigers have fared better under the lights than during the day. From 1960 to 2012, LSU is 221–60–4 (.782) at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 25–26–3 (.491) record during the day over that span. 384-143-18 (.722)
Practice and training facilities
The Charles McClendon Practice Facility is the name of the LSU Tigers football practice facility. The facility features the LSU Football Operations Center, the Tigers Indoor Practice Facility and four outdoor 100-yard football practice fields. In 2002, it was named after former LSU head coach and College Football Hall of Fame member, Charles McClendon.
The LSU Football Operations Center, built in 2006, is an all-in-one facility that includes the Tigers locker room, players' lounge, Peterson-Roberts weight room, training room, equipment room, video operations center and coaches offices. The operations center atrium holds team displays and graphics, trophy cases and memorabilia of LSU football.
The LSU Indoor Practice Facility, built in 1991, is a climate-controlled 82,500 square feet facility connected to the Football Operations Center. It holds the 100-yd Anderson-Feazel LSU indoor field with Momentum Field Turf by SportExe. The indoor practice facility is located behind the football operations center.
The four outdoor practice fields are directly adjacent to the football operations center and indoor practice facility. Three of the fields are natural grass, while the fourth, The Scott & Espe Moran Outdoor Turf Field has a Momentum Field Turf by SportExe playing surface.
LSU has had 32 head coaches since organized football began in 1893. In that time, 11 coaches have led the Tigers in postseason bowl games: Bernie Moore, Gus Tinsley, Paul Dietzel, Charles McClendon, Jerry Stovall, Bill Arnsparger, Mike Archer, Gerry DiNardo, Nick Saban, Les Miles and Ed Orgeron. Five of those coaches also won conference championships after LSU left the Southern Conference to join the SEC: Moore, Dietzel, McClendon, Arnsparger, Archer, Saban and Miles won a combined eleven as a member of the SEC. During their tenures, Dietzel, Saban, and Miles each won national championships awarded by major selectors while with the Tigers. Of the 32 different head coaches who have led the Tigers, Dana X. Bible, Michael Donahue, Lawrence "Biff" Jones, Moore and McClendon have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Since 2002, LSU has been ranked in the Top 25 in recruiting ranking by multiple ranking services.
LSU plays Florida as a permanent non-division opponent annually and rotates around the East division among the other six schools.
Announced schedules as of July 5, 2019