1959 LSU Tigers football team
The 1959 LSU Tigers football team represented Louisiana State University in the 1959 NCAA University Division football season. The Tigers were coached by Paul Dietzel and were the defending national champions.
|1959 LSU Tigers football|
|1959 record||9–2 (5–1 SEC)|
|Head coach||Paul Dietzel (5th season)|
|Home stadium||Tiger Stadium|
|1959 SEC football standings|
|No. 5 Georgia $||7||–||0||–||0||10||–||1||–||0|
|No. 3 LSU||5||–||1||–||0||9||–||2||–||0|
|No. 2 Ole Miss||5||–||1||–||0||10||–||1||–||0|
|No. 10 Alabama||4||–||1||–||2||7||–||2||–||2|
|No. 19 Florida||2||–||4||–||0||5||–||4||–||1|
Rankings from AP Poll
The Tigers were a near unanimous pre-season favorite to repeat as national champions in 1959. Most of the players from the National Championship team of 1958 were returning, including the All-American halfback Billy Cannon, who had come in third in the 1958 Heisman balloting.
LSU had no real trouble in winning its first 6 games in 1959, though its offense was not as potent as 1958's. Its defense made up for it by being even stingier, allowing only 6 points in 6 games. In the 7th game of the season LSU faced its sternest test—undefeated Ole Miss on Halloween in Tiger Stadium. That game between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Ole Miss was touted as 1959's "Game of the Year." Ole Miss held a 3–0 lead until the 4th quarter, often punting on first down due to the very wet conditions on the field. With about 10 minutes left in the game, Ole Miss punted and Billy Cannon took the punt at the LSU 11. Cannon charted a course along the Ole Miss sidelines, weaving between Rebel defenders, eluding tacklers, and racing towards the goal line for an 89 yard punt return touchdown. Ole Miss then started a determined drive and marched down to the two yard line where it was 4th and goal with 18 seconds left. Ole Miss quarterback Doug Elmore was stopped at the one by Cannon and his teammates to ensure the 7–3 victory. However, the next week, LSU lost its next SEC game against Tennessee at Knoxville, 14–13, when Cannon's attempt at a 2 pt conversion failed. The loss not only cost LSU a shot as repeating as national champion, it also denied them the SEC championship, which went to the Georgia Bulldogs, and ended a 19 game win streak—the longest in school history—that started in the last game of 1957. The Tigers defeated Mississippi State and Tulane to finish the season 9-1, and they were ranked No. 3 in the nation behind No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Ole Miss.
In the meantime Billy Cannon won the Heisman Trophy by one of the widest margins in the history of the trophy balloting at the time. The Tigers were invited to play in the Sugar Bowl, and their opponent was Ole Miss, in a rematch. At first Paul Dietzel, LSU's coach, was not anxious to replay the Rebels, but he was persuaded to do so by the athletic director, Jim Corbett. By the time January 1 came, three LSU star players were injured, including quarterback Warren Rabb, and halfbacks Wendell Harris and Johnny Robinson. The Tigers were soundly beaten by the Rebels, 21–0, and were outgained 373-74.
Following the Sugar Bowl, Cannon signed a professional contract with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, which was scheduled to begin play in September 1960, spurning an offer from the National Football League's Los Angeles Rams.
|September 19||Rice*||No. 1||NBC||W 26–3||48,613|
|September 26||No. 9 TCU*||No. 1||W 10–0||65,694|
|October 3||Baylor*||No. 1||W 22–0||32,308|
|October 10||Miami (FL)*||No. 1||W 27–3||64,864|
|October 17||at Kentucky||No. 1||W 9–0||33,230|
|October 24||at Florida||No. 1||W 9–0||47,578|
|October 31||No. 3 Ole Miss||No. 1||W 7–3||67,327|
|November 7||at No. 13 Tennessee||No. 1||L 13–14||45,682|
|November 14||Mississippi State||No. 3||W 27–0||63,272|
|November 21||Tulane||No. 3||W 14–6||65,057|
|January 1, 1960||vs. No. 2 Ole Miss||No. 3||NBC||L 0–21||81,141|
- Source: LSUSports.net: 1959 LSU football schedule
- "1959 LSU football schedule". LSUSports.net. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- The Fighting Tigers: Seventy-Five Years of LSU Football by Peter Finney, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, 1968