Home wins vs. Bama still a new commodity - lsureveille.com: Sports

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Football Home wins vs. Bama still a new commodity

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Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 11:18 pm

From the first man on the moon to the new millennium — that’s how long LSU went without beating Alabama in Tiger Stadium.

Between LSU wins in 1969 and 2000, the Crimson Tide went 14-0-1 in Baton Rouge, often ending the Tigers’ Southeastern Conference championship dreams in a crushing fashion.

“It was a really strange thing,” said Jim Hawthorne, longtime LSU director of broadcasting. “It didn’t seem to matter how good Alabama was or whether LSU may have been better. There was no rhyme or reason to why they always seemed to win.”

Spanning 10 combined coaches, three decades and two stadium renovations, Alabama outscored LSU 343-161 — an average score of 23-10 — in those 15 games.

The road tradition has continued even into this millennium, though LSU has largely flipped the script.

The home team has won just six of the last 16 meetings, with the Tigers claiming four of those six victories. In fact, the home team has only won 42 percent of games in the series, excluding ties.

Alabama holds a 24-9-2 advantage against LSU in Baton Rouge.

In light of LSU’s ongoing 22-game home winning streak, senior offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk said he couldn’t fathom going 30 years without beating a team in Tiger Stadium.

“That’s a crazy statistic, especially with the win streak we’ve built,” he said. “It’s tough to even think about the L-word in Tiger Stadium. That’s craziness to me.”

Other than a tie in 1985, it was the only word LSU knew for three decades against Alabama at home.

Charlie McClendon, LSU’s all-time leader in coaching wins, was 1-7 against the Tide in Tiger Stadium.

Four times during those 30 years, the Tigers would have won the SEC simply by winning in Baton Rouge.

The most famous loss came in 1979, when LSU dropped a 3-0 rain-soaked decision to the Tide, who rolled to a national title while averaging 34.6 points per game.

The Tigers managed four wins in Alabama during the 1980s and two in the 1990s, but the Tiger Stadium voodoo continued, most infamously in 1998 when Alabama scored 15 points in the final 2:24 to steal a 22-16 win.

Then, Nick Saban came and went.

In his first season at LSU, the Tigers finally snapped the streak, beating Alabama, 30-28, behind two touchdown catches by former tight end Robert Royal and the help of a wacky replay reversal that correctly gave possession back to the Tigers after a fumble.

Starting with that win, LSU leads the series 4-2 at home during this millennium, and most current players are barely aware of the Tigers’ former futility against the Tide.

Dworaczyk understood the implications more than most of his teammates, boasting that Tiger Stadium has a little “extra fire” in it for the crimson-clad visitors, perhaps because of the their longtime dominance there.

“There’s a lot of reasons for that extra intensity, but losing isn’t in the plans anymore,” Dworaczyk said. “The fact that, for some of the older generations, it’s still something new seeing LSU beat Alabama here — You can feel and hear it. We’ve been taught here to respect the teams before us, to take what they did and build on it. Beating Bama here is probably the best way to do that.”

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