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Wednesday WayBack, 1986: No. 8 LSU 21, Notre Dame 19

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In honor of Bill Arnsparger’s passing, let’s remember one of the biggest wins his Tigers picked up in Tiger Stadium.

The Setting:

  • The '86 Tigers rolled into the second-to-last week of the regular season 7-2 and ranked in the top 10. The SEC title was locked up, despite some really hinky losses. LSU had knocked off No. 6 Alabama in Birmingham two weeks earlier, followed by a dominant 47-0 win over Mississippi State. Tommy Hodson. Wendell Davis. Henry Thomas. Eric Andolsek. We've talked about these guys before. Fairly loaded squad.

  • The Irish, on the other hand, were under first-year head coach Lou Holtz (lookin' SPRY here, I must say...this Lou would have given Mayday HELL on those final verdict segments) and unranked, with five losses on the season already. Albeit to Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, Pitt and Penn State, three of which were ranked in the top five when they faced Notre Dame. Despite the poor record, the Irish still had a future pro quarterback in Steve Buerlein and multi-purpose superstar, and future Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown. Mike Haywood, who would later coach at both schools, also played defensive back on this Irish team. They also had kicker John Carney, who spent a couple of years with the Saints and still might be kicking in the NFL 30 years later for all I know.

The Game:

  • Speaking of spry, how about Mike Patrick on the call here?

  • Nice intro for Brown, who really was ahead of his time in terms of usage. In '86 he gained 910 yards receiving on just 45 catches, with another 254 rushing yards. Kind of similar to Percy Harvin, only not in a spread offense that could get him in space so easily.

  • EIGHT-IES FASH-ION CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP

  • Tigers take the first drive of the game right down the field and Hodson threads the needle to Davis from 13-yards out.

  • But it doesn't take the Irish long to respond. Tim Brown takes the next kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown. Looks like a block in the back may have sprung him, but Brown still slipped through two tackles and was basically gone by midfield. He's not in the NFL Hall of Fame for nothin' folks.

  • Just a year later, Brown and Davis, Sterling Sharpe and Michael Irvin in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft.

  • Hodson and LSU responds with a 17-play, 82-yard drive that featured big completions, shown here, to Tony Moss and Sammy Martin and a four-yard scoring pass to Rogie Magee.

  • The teams stalemated for the rest of the first half, with both kickers missing field goals, before Carney kicked one in the third to pull Notre Dame to 14-10. But then on the next play from scrimmage, Hodson misses Irish safety Steve Lawrence, who intercepted the ball and ran it back to the two-yard line.

  • But what ensues is one of the great goal-line stands you will ever see. First and second downs, two big stuffs on dive plays by the Irish fullback. Third down: ANOTHER inside stuff on an I-formation dive -- Toby Caston meets Anthony Johnson in mid-air, Varsity Blues-style. And then fourth down: Tigers collapse on a wide option attempt perfectly, and the pitchman Brown is stuffed in the backfield by senior safety Steve Rehage.

  • That would be the kind of possession that would have me screaming for a quarterback sneak.

  • Who would think a tackle from Sammy Martin on the interception would wind up being so crucial?

  • Do y'all think Steve Rehage was descended from a family of Hage's that had a comeback somewhere along the line?

  • The Irish would get a Carney field goal in the fourth quarter to get within one, and Hodson led the Tigers back on another touchdown drive. With a teensy bit of help from Davis on that 10-yard completion, to set up another four-yard touchdown.

  • Chris Carrier picks off Buerlein two plays later. Hodson would throw a 45-yard bomb to Davis, but be intercepted himself again, to give the Irish one last chance with backup quarterback Terry Andrysiak, who immediately drove Notre Dame for the first fourth quarter touchdown LSU had given up ALL SEASON, per the broadcast. But the Tigers snuffed out the two-point conversion to hold on.

  • Another big catch from Davis helped the offense run the clock out. He'd finish with seven catches for 121 yards.