There’s no shortage of legendary stories about the atmosphere inside of Tiger Stadium. Whether it's crazed fans, games like the 1997 upset of No. 1 Florida or the night Les Miles’ madness led to LSU going five-for-five on fourth down conversions against Florida in 2007.
On both occasions, and again in 2009 when No. 1 Florida defeated No. 4 LSU 13-3, ESPN’s College GameDay was on hand in Baton Rouge.
Gameday will return to Baton Rouge once more for another round as No. 5 LSU (5-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) and No. 7 Florida (6-0, 3-0 SEC) go head-to-head at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
It’s the 13th time LSU will host Gameday, tied for the second most with Alabama behind Ohio State’s 18. The first time Gameday came to LSU was in 1996. When Lee Corso picked Alabama to defeat LSU, a golf ball was thrown at his head.
The incident with the golf ball, which was found and kept by LSU’s Athletic Department, didn’t stop Gameday from returning in 1997 for LSU’s game against Florida.
1997 - No. 14 LSU defeats No. 1 Florida 28-21
On the Friday before LSU football’s greatest upset, Gameday host Chris Fowler and analyst Kirk Herbstreit were with Corso filming a segment on the ramps of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. LSU fans once again directed vitriol at Corso and threw two half-full beer cans at the trio, according to a story by The Reveille following the game in 1997.
Fowler and Herbstreit took things in stride and praised the atmosphere and passion of LSU fans.
“The SEC takes it to a different level, and then you can say that a place like LSU takes it to a different level,” Herbstreit was quoted in the story. “We come out here on a Friday to tape SportsCenter and there is a couple of hundred people. That’s unheard of because usually you go around places and they don’t even show up on Friday.”
“There is a unique regional atmosphere around here,” Fowler added. “We will be spending part of our afternoon out here mixing with the tailgaters and eating free food. It’s nice, and we enjoy meeting people.
“I love coming back here, and I hope we can do it at least once a year.”
The Tigers went on to defeat No. 1 Florida 28-21, breaking a nine-game losing streak to the Gators. It was the first time LSU beat the No. 1 ranked team in the AP poll. The crowd of 80,677 set the school-record at the time.
LSU running back Kevin Faulk, who rushed for 78 yards, ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the upset. Quarterback Herb Tyler had two rushing touchdowns, while fullback Tommy Banks added another. Cornerback Cedric Donaldson sealed the game with a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown.
2007 - No. 1 LSU defeats No. 9 Florida 28-24
What better way to celebrate a game against the defending national championships and that season’s Heisman winner Tim Tebow than starting the morning off with College Gameday?
The much anticipated game lived up to the hype, and it was the first time Corso chose LSU to beat Florida, which Corso picked over LSU five times prior.
Leading up to the game, LSU fans obtained Tebow’s phone number and relentlessly called him throughout the night. Tebow responded by taunting the student section with a phone call gesture after scoring a touchdown, and the Gators led by 10 entering the fourth quarter.
Then Miles decided to roll the dice by going for it on fourth down twice on LSU’s game-winning drive, spanning 15 plays and 60 yards while taking eight minutes off the clock. Running back Jacob Hester came through for the Tigers and scored a touchdown to give LSU a 28-24 lead with a little over a minute left to play.
“It’s the only time in football I’ve never had a play called in the huddle,” Hester said in a 2018 interview with The Reveille. “We all knew what the play was; [quarterback Matt Flynn] didn’t have to tell us formation; he didn’t have to tell us which way to go. That’s the kind of squad we had, we had just been together so long that he said ‘go score,’ and score we did.”
“To be able to a part of something so special in LSU history, it’s just monumental for me, and I’m just honored to be a part of it. So many guys went into making that drive what it was.”
The win, with the help of USC’s loss to Stanford, cemented LSU as the No. 1 team in the nation. And despite losing to Kentucky the following week, LSU ended the season with a 38-24 win over Ohio State in the national championship game.
2009 - No. 1 Florida defeats No. 4 LSU 13-3
The 2009 game pitted the two teams that combined to win the previous three national championships. It was Tebow and Florida coach Urban Meyer’s last game in Tiger Stadium.
Questions surrounded Tebow’s health after he suffered a severe concussion against Kentucky in Florida’s prior game, but the 2007 Heisman winner was cleared to play the morning of the game.
Corso once again picked LSU, and while the Tigers defense held Tebow to 134 yards passing and 38 yards rushing, his 24-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper before halftime was enough to give the Gators the win.
Florida’s defense suffocated LSU’s offense and sacked quarterback Jordan Jefferson five times. LSU ran 47 plays and mustered 162 yards in the 13-3 loss.
2019 - No. 5 LSU vs No. 7 Florida
This Saturday’s game features the nation’s best offense against one of the best defenses. LSU’s offense averages 571 yards per game, which is second in the country, and has the No. 1 scoring offense in the country with 54.6 points per game.
Meanwhile, Florida’s defense holds opponents to 276 yards and 9.5 points per game, which ranks No. 11 and No. 5 in the nation, respectively.
Through five games, LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow established himself as a legitimate Heisman contender, throwing for 1,864 yards and 22 touchdowns while completing 78 percent of his passes and adding another two touchdowns on the ground.
Last year against Florida, Burrow had one of his worst games of the season, throwing a pick six and another interception in the fourth quarter in a 27-19 loss.
LSU enters 5-0 against Florida for the second-straight year and looks to prove itself with its second top-10 win on the season.
“We’re fixing to find out [how good we are],” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron following a 42-6 win over Utah State. “I feel like we have a very good football team. I felt like we had a good team last year. Nobody knew about us last year, and we were the underdogs and were always fighting.”
“Now, everybody is coming after us. But you know, Florida is going to be a big challenge for us, but its games we love to play.”