LSU’s season was a tumultuous roller coaster. The Tigers took the nation by storm with a blazing 7-0 start, then dropped three-consecutive games and nearly got head coach Les Miles fired after 11 seasons.
The 2015 season didn’t finish as well as it had started, but the Tigers managed to salvage an 8-3 campaign. Here are the three moments that defined the season:
The Fournette Flip
This play inserted LSU and tailback Leonard Fournette into the national spotlight. LSU was already dominating Auburn 24-7, but Fournette’s incredible 29-yard run pretty much sealed the deal early in the second half.
Fournette burst through a big hole on the left side, sped past the first down marker, juked past a hopeless defender then put the cherry on top of a prolific run when he did this:
Leonard Fournette TD run and Tray Matthews flip https://t.co/gpbsD9EiW6
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 19, 2015
It’s safe to say Fournette runs pretty angry. It’s also safe to say that jumping on Fournette’s shoulders is a bad way to tackle him. And don’t forget, he jukes out the next defender immediately after, as he trots into the end zone.
This run put LSU up 31-7 and helped propel the Tigers to a 7-0 start. It was one of the marquee moments of the season and will certainly be featured in many Fournette highlight tapes down the road.
The fake field goal against Florida
Fournette’s run was spectacular, but this was the play of the year for LSU. The Tigers faced their stiffest test at Tiger Stadium against the then No. 8 Florida Gators.
Both teams traded blows all evening in Baton Rouge, La. LSU fought out of an early deficit, but ultimately surrendered a 28-14 second half lead. The Gators had tied the game at 28 with a 72-yard punt return with just more than a minute in the third quarter. On the ensuing drive, LSU answered with a special teams score of their own.
Les Miles isn’t called The Mad Hatter for nothing. The coach dialed up one of his trademark trick plays and it worked to perfection with 10:40 remaining in the game. Holder Brad Kragthorpe caught the snap and flipped a pass to kicker Trent Domingue, who after a few bobbles had nothing but the end zone in front of him. Domingue scampered in for a touchdown that changed LSU’s season.
— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) October 18, 2015
Five possessions later, LSU was 6-0. This was the biggest play of LSU’s biggest win this season. It will go down as one of the best trick plays of the Miles era at LSU.
The Les Miles saga
The season’s most recent moment is also its most dramatic. Miles was reportedly fired all week. He ended up coaching the regular-season finale against Texas A&M, then was carried off the field after LSU beat the Aggies 19-7. He sang the alma mater in what appeared to be his swan song and headed into the Tiger Stadium tunnel for what was supposed to be the final time.
Then, minutes later, athletic director Joe Alleva announced Miles was staying. New reports surfaced that the decision was made during halftime of last weekend’s game. The $17 million buyout Miles and his staff would be owed also played a large role in the process. LSU might have had Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lined up to replace Miles.
Then, according to reports, LSU president F. King Alexander and even Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal intervened. That and the unprecedented fan support of Miles changed the decision last week.
Miles will be back for 2016, but that doesn’t mean he will make it through the rest of his contract, which expires in 2019. The standard for Miles is also uncertain. The Tigers were in the mix for the College Football Playoff a month ago, which has obviously been forgotten. Most of the talent from this year’s team, including Fournette, will return. Combine that with a talented recruiting class coming in and the Tigers could be in store for a revitalization next season.
However, Miles’ status will likely be uncertain if LSU fails to win 10 games for the third-consecutive season. This moment was the most recent, but it could have the most ramifications on the program down the road.