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 21 Saturdays until that BYU game. So let’s take a look at all the reasons the number 21 is significant in LSU football history to keep your mind occupied and dreaming of returning to Death Valley.
The number 21 has a bit of a championship connotation in LSU football history. Especially recent history.
Take 2004, for example. The first of LSU’s 2 national championships in the 2000s came via a 21-14 win over Oklahoma, securing the second championship in LSU football history. In a game mired in controversy based on who the BCS chose to play for the championship, both LSU and Oklahoma validated the decision, playing a complete, back-and-forth competition. But ultimately, LSU’s No. 1 defense stifled Heisman Trophy winner Jason White and the Sooners’ offense, bringing the trophy up I-10 back to Baton Rouge.
Four years later, the same score led to the same result in a different championship setting. The 2007 LSU Tigers faced off against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Championship Game. Heading into the game, LSU ranked fifth in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the BCS, so a national championship berth seemed out of the question. But with a 21-14 victory over the No. 14 Vols, and losses from West Virginia and Missouri, LSU vaulted into the championship game, a game it eventually won over Ohio State.
There was also a third BCS Championship Game that LSU played in that involved the number 21. But we don’t need to talk about that if you don’t want to. That’s understandable.
Who wore it best?
A handful of big-time names have worn 21 for the LSU football team over the years, but 2 names stand out above the rest.
From 1982-85, running back Dalton Hilliard donned 21. All Hilliard did was become the second LSU back to rush for 4,000 yards in a career and graduate as LSU’s all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Hilliard rushed for 1,000 or more yards in both his junior and senior seasons and scored 11 or more touchdowns in 3 of his 4 years in Baton Rouge. Hilliard parlayed his college success into the NFL, where he was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints.
From 2004-07, defensive back Chevis Jackson took over the mantle of No. 21, and did so admirably.
Jackson intercepted 8 passes and broke up 36 in his hyper-productive LSU career, but perhaps none was more important than his snag in the BCS Championship Game versus Ohio State. That was the fifth and final interception of Jackson’s impressive senior campaign, and it couldn’t have come in a bigger game.
In all, Jackson finished his LSU football career with more than 100 tackles, 8 of which for loss, half a sack and those 8 picks. Jackson was picked in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, and he played 3 NFL seasons before fizzling out in 2010.
LSU football record books
21 appears more than a couple of times in the LSU football record books, ranging from productive offenses to single-game defensive heroics.
- Al Richardson, the all-time leading tackler in LSU history, also holds the record for most tackles in a single game with 21. He set the mark in 1982 versus South Carolina, a game the No. 14 Tigers won 14-6.
- Wide receiver Michael Clayton holds the 3-year record for receiving touchdowns at LSU with 21 from 2001-03. At the time Clayton left for the NFL, that was also the LSU football career record, a mark that has since been broken by Dwayne Bowe and Brandon LaFell.
- In LSU’s aforementioned 2007 championship season, quarterback Matt Flynn passed for 21 touchdowns, the fifth-most any LSU quarterback ever threw for in a single season.
What lies ahead
Two games on the LSU football team’s 2021 schedule have been announced. The Tigers will play the road half of a home-and-home versus UCLA and will host in-state foe McNeese State. LSU and UCLA have never played in football. LSU is 1-0 all-time versus McNeese State, and had a game cancelled versus the squad at the start of the 2015 season.
Check back to SECCountry.com every Saturday between now and football season for more trips down memory lane.