BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU football season is so much further away than any of you want it to be.
But we at SEC Country want to make the wait go by a little faster. So every Saturday that you don’t get to watch college football, we’re going to give it to you anyway with a throwback-style countdown of how many weekends you have left before LSU kicks off its 2017 season on Sept. 2 against BYU in Houston.
Counting today, there are 28 Saturdays until that BYU game. So let’s take a look at all the reasons the number 28 is significant in LSU football history to keep your mind occupied and dreaming of returning to Death Valley.
10 years apart, two huge wins
Separated by 10 years, two of the biggest wins in LSU football history came against Florida, and the number 28 played a significant role in each.
In 1997, LSU had lost a series-record 9 consecutive games versus Florida. The Gators came into Death Valley ranked as the No. 1 team and unbeaten in their last 25 SEC contests. But on Oct. 11, none of that mattered.
Led by quarterback Herb Tyler, running back Kevin Faulk and defensive back Cedric Donaldson, LSU upset the No. 1 Gators 28-21, leading to LSU fans storming the field and tearing down the goal posts. Donaldson intercepted 2 passes and returned 1 for a touchdown; Tyler rushed for 2 touchdowns.
A decade later, things had changed a bit in the rivalry. No longer was Florida in position to win nine out of 10 games. The Gators were still a dynasty, led by Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow and coming off a national championship the previous year. But this time, LSU came into the game ranked No. 1.
In perhaps the signature game of the Les Miles era, LSU came back from a 24-14 deficit in the final 10 minutes to defeat Florida 28-24. Though LSU could’ve settled for the tie and kicked field goals on multiple occasions, Miles showed off his gambler’s attitude, going for it on fourth down five times. LSU converted all 5, including a red-zone touchdown to make it 24-21. A fourth-and-1 dive by Jacob Hester with less than 3 minutes left put LSU in scoring position.
LSU went on to win the 2007 BCS National Championship.
And oh, by the way, how many times has LSU defeated Florida in school history? Why, 28, of course.
The number 28 shows up more than a few times in the LSU football record book. Here are a few examples:
- The school record for touchdown passes in a season is 28, set by Matt Mauck (2003) and matched by JaMarcus Russell (2006). No other player has come within 5 touchdowns of that mark.
- Jeremy Hill finished his college career with 28 rushing touchdowns, the eighth most in school history and the third most since the beginning of the Nick Saban era in Baton Rouge.
- Kicker Josh Jasper holds the record for field goals made in a season with 28 in 2010. Jasper broke the mark of 26 set by Colt David in 2007.
Who wore it best: LSU football and No. 28
You don’t have to look far to find the most notable No. 28 in LSU history.
Jalen Mills wore No. 28 for the Tigers from 2012 to ’15, starring as a cornerback and a safety.
Mills made 216 tackles, intercepted 6 passes, defensed 11 passes and sacked the quarterback 4 times as a Tiger. The defensive back played in every game in his first three college seasons. He was able to play in only six as a senior because of injury.
The Dallas native was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Mills played in all 16 of Philadelphia’s games, starting 2, making 51 tackles and breaking up 7 passes. Mills was the Eagles’ fourth-leading tackler and the leader among cornerbacks.
Who wears it now?
After Mills left, running back Darrel Williams took No. 28. In his first year, Williams carried 52 times for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns.
All 3 of Williams’ touchdowns and 130 of his yards came in a breakout performance against Missouri in the first game of the Ed Orgeron era. For the rest of the season, Williams accounted for only 80 yards because of the emergence of Derrius Guice as a feature back and the return of Leonard Fournette from injury.
Check back to SECCountry.com every Saturday between now and football season for more trips down memory lane.