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Wednesday Wayback, 1987: No. 6 LSU 17, No. 15 Texas A&M 3

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What if I told you that sometimes a first impression doesn’t last?

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It's a summer of some major anniversaries for both LSU and the state, so we thought we'd try and look back at some beginnings here as we start our annual summer historical jaunt. In the fall of 1987, your humble correspondent had just started kindergarten, the NFL was in the midst of its second work stoppage in a decade and former defensive assistant Mike Archer, at all of 34 years old (one year older than I am today), was beginning his first season as head coach of the LSU Tigers.

Archer was taking over for Bill Arnsparger, who had left to take the athletic director's job at the University of Florida. He'd been Arnsparger's hand-picked choice, and the leadership of the football team had gone to bat for the young assistant as well with LSU's leadership -- who had also considered hiring then-Duke head coach Steve Spurrier and NFL assistant Mike Shanahan.

The '87 Tigers were coming off a Sugar Bowl season, and featured stars and LSU legends like Tommy Hodson, Wendell Davis, Harvey Williams, Eddie Fuller, Eric Andolsek, Eric Hill, Mark Jackson and Nicky Hazard.

But it wasn't coming easy, with a season-opening matchup against the 15th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies.

The Setting:

  • Archer was the youngest coach in all of Division I. You know, I like to think I know a lot about football, and I often think that I missed my calling in the coaching profession. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to run a major college football program.

  • The Aggies were in year three under an old friend of ours: Jackie Sherrill. They had made major waves when they hired ol' Jackie as head coach/athletic director away from Pitt in the early 80s. Most don't remember that Pitt was an absolute powerhouse in those years, from Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green in the 70s to Dan Marino and Bill Fralic through the early 80s. Even back then, Jackie had a reputation as a shady recruiter, and that made him a perfect fit for the Southwest Conference. At the time, his $500,000 salary was considered absolutely obscene by the punditry.

The Game:

(kudos again to rnolan53 for this tremendous archive)

  • Smooth as it ever was, Brent. Bet if you'd told Musberger in '87 that in about 28 years he'd be calling games for the SEC's own network, he'd ask for a sip of what you're drinking.

  • Astroturf is used as a punishment in one of the levels of hell.

  • Harvey Williams had been the subject of a VERY heated recruiting battle between LSU and the Aggies in the Houston area. Some of our older commenters might be able to give y'all a perspective on that one.

  • Damn, sweet high-top fade on Ruffin Rodrigue.

  • The box-score on this one is an incredibly faded PDF and tough to follow, but nearest I can tell a Williams-led opening drive netted a missed field goal by David Browndyke, but the Tiger defense got a quick three-and-out.

  • WHO SAYS WEIRD/LUCKY STUFF IS A LES MILES THING HERE? Hodson, under incredible pressure, throws an "oh shit!" pass to nobody that Williams somehow runs underneath. I fully expected to see an interception watching the play unfold.

  • The drive leads to the first of two short-yardage touchdowns for Williams' running mate, Victor Jones. LSU had a 14-0 lead at the half and gained just 67 yards of offense, including 10 yards passing, at the half.

  • The Aggies finished with just 93 passing yards on the day on 9-18 completions, including two interceptions. One of them went to 245-pound nose tackle (!!!!!) Darrell Phillips.

  • The 80s can't be beat for names when it comes to LSU football. Can you even imagine a Wally or a Harvey playing for the Tigers now?

  • You never think of Tony Moss when you remember great LSU receivers, and he definitely doesn't have the numbers of guys like Davis or Eric Martin or Todd Kinchen, but damn does he have some fun highlights.

  • Defensive lineman Oliver Laurence gets a mention here -- I do believe he's an uncle to a certain defensive tackle from Monroe LSU is heavily recruiting in this class.

  • And there it is. The first win of Mike Archer's career. LSU would go on to an undefeated regular season and an SEC title, with just a home loss to Alabama and a frustrating tie with Ohio State, just missing a second-straight SEC title. He would win just 26 more games over the next four seasons. This would be one of just two blemishes for the Aggies, who would win the SWC that season.