The LSU Tigers have not lost to Mississippi State since the 1999 season when the Bulldogs won the SEC west, but in 2009 the streak was mere inches away from being snapped in what was one of the most exciting finishes this rivalry has seen in recent memory.
On this “way back Wednesday”, let’s revisit the game that could have propelled Mississippi State toward the top half of the SEC west and narrowed the gap between the ‘Dawgs and the Tigers.
It was the first year for Dan Mullen in Starkville and he was looking for a signature moment as he attempted to rebuild the program–which he has done a nice job doing–but his team fell oh so short in the 30-26 loss that saw Mississippi State stopped on four successive plays from inside the one-yard line with less than 90 seconds in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has got heart, character and courage, and I can’t wait to see the video,” LSU coach Les Miles said after the game.
LSU stuffed State quarterback Tyson Lee about six inches from the goal line and one of the biggest wins in program history giving the Tiger’s an improbable win in a game State should have won.
LSU was abysmal on offense for much of the afternoon with the exception of two passes to Brandon LaFell who finished with 101 yards and a 58-yard touchdown to start the second half. Other than LaFell the offense was unable to do much against an inspired State defense going 2-13 on 3rd down attempts and finishing with 30 rushing yards for the game.
Despite the listless effort by the LSU offense, the defense kept them in the game by forcing four turnovers in the first half that resulted in 10 points. Lee tossed three interceptions during the first half including one returned 37 yards for a touchdown by freshman cornerback Patrick Peterson who would go on to an All-American career.
LSU also got a magnificent 93-yard punt return from Chad Jones to start the fourth quarter to put them up by nine. But the defense had no answer for the eventual all-time leading rusher at Mississippi State in Anthony Dixon who ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Dixon’s performance set the stage for the dramatics in the final 90 seconds, but he needed one more yard for his third touchdown on the goal line stand by LSU to send the road team home with a loss after they have dominated the rivalry.
“When the play was there to be made at the biggest times of the game, they made the play,” Mullen said.
LSU finished that season with a 9-4 record and a loss in the Capitol One Bowl vs. Penn State, but that goal line stand is a moment that will live forever when these two teams play.