Top 10 LSU Tigers Football Teams of All-Time

Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter

Athlon Sports ranks the best LSU teams since the AP Poll debuted in 1934.

<p> Top 10 LSU Tigers Football Teams of All-Time</p>

There is so much to love about the LSU Tigers. A real Bengal Tiger for a mascot. One of the loudest, most electric Saturday night atmospheres in the nation. And arguably the most diverse and delicious tailgating menus of all-time make the Bayou Bengals one of college football's greatest programs. Unfortunately, the success on the field has been few and far between for the current SEC powerhouse.

LSU won one national championship and just eight SEC titles in 70 years from the league's inception (1933) until Nick Saban's historic 2003 title run. But LSU hasn't missed a bowl since Saban's first season (2000) and has been a national title contender ever since.

But how would Billy Cannon to do against Glenn Dorsey or Ali Highsmith? Overall, the Tigers have claimed three national titles and at least a share of 11 SEC championships since the AP Era debuted in 1934. But which team was the best? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in LSU history is virtually impossible.

But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2003 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban

There is little doubt the 2003 LSU Tigers were the best collection of Bayou Bengals in school history. The offense was excellent, led by the likes of Matt Mauck, Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson, Stephen Peterman, Joseph Addai, Alley Broussard, Justin Vincent and Rimington winner Ben Wilkerson. But the defense was legendary as Chad Lavalais, Marcus Spears and Kyle Williams dominated the defensive line and Corey Webster and LaRon Landry patrolled the secondary. From a talent perspective, no team in LSU history can match Saban’s championship squad. And with LSU’s first national championship since 1958, this team will go down in LSU lore as the greatest team to ever play in Baton Rouge. A single 19-7 home loss to Florida early in the year was the season's only blemish and is the only thing keeping this team from joining a small pantheon of unbeaten BCS National Champs.

2. 1958 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

Despite not facing unbeaten and No. 4-ranked Aubun all season, the LSU Tigers won the SEC and National Championship in Paul Dietzel’s fourth season. It was his first winning record at LSU and it is still the school’s only unblemished season of the poll era. Future Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon led the offense and the defense held all but one team (Duke) to seven points or less.

3. 2011 (13-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Les Miles

Despite the ugly way this season ended, the 2011 LSU Tigers is one of the most decorated, successful and talented teams to ever roam the Bayou. After posting wins over eight ranked opponents, including a memorable upset of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, LSU entered the national title game with a program-record 13 wins. It featured an elite defense stacked with a number of first-round picks, including a Thorpe Award winner in Morris Claiborne. Certainly, the BCS championship game performance was horrendous and left a bitter scar on the ’11 team’s resume. Still, no LSU team has had a better regular season and no LSU team has won more games than the 2011 squad.

4. 2007 (12-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Les Miles

It is difficult to truly evaluate the 2007 LSU Tigers. They were exceptionally talented with names like Matt Flynn, Glenn Dorsey, Darry Beckwith, Ciron Black, Craig Steltz, Chevis Jackson, Ali Highsmith and Jacob Hester. They defeated seven ranked opponents and won the SEC and BCS national championships. However, what keeps this team from being the best of all-time was 93 points allowed to Arkansas and Kentucky in overtime losses. This is the only two-loss BCS champ and, like most teams, needed some good fortune (looking at West Virginia and Missouri) to land in the title game against Ohio State. This team was unbeaten in regulation in ’07 and was deserving of being called the best team in the nation, but it’s not in the same dominant category of the three LSU teams above it.

5. 1936 (9-1-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bernie Moore

The SEC champs tied at Texas in Week 2 and entered the Sugar Bowl game against No. 5 Santa Clara with a shot at the national championship. This defense allowed an unbelievable 4.9 points per game behind five shutouts but couldn’t stop the Broncos. The 21-14 Sugar Bowl loss was the season’s only blemish and it cost the Tigers a potential national title. LSU finished No. 2 in the final AP poll while Minnesota finished No. 1 and claimed the national championship.

6. 1961 (10-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

In 1961 fans in Baton Rouge were left wondering what if had it not lost the season opener at Rice 16-3. After giving up 16 points in the season opener, LSU allowed a total of 41 points the rest of the season and finished with 10 straight wins. This run included victories over No. 6 Colorado in the Orange Bowl, No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 2 Ole Miss. This is one of eight LSU teams to finish inside the AP top four at season’s end and it also won a share of the SEC championship.

7. 2001 (10-3, 5-3)
Head Coach: Nick Saban

Yes, this team was stacked with NFL talent. Yes, this team finished No. 7 in the final AP poll. But what made this team special was the championship drought this group ended for Bayou Bengal faithful. Led by Biletnikoff winner Josh Reed, this team defeated four straight ranked opponents to end the year as SEC champions — the school’s first conference title since 1988 and its first outright SEC crown since 1986. After three decades of irrelevance, this team signified the return of LSU football to prominence.

8. 1959 (9-2, 5-1)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

The team that followed the ’58 national champs won the school’s only Heisman Trophy when Billy Cannon returned to dominate college football. This team began as the No. 1 team in the nation until a loss at No. 13 Tennessee late in the year knocked them off the top slot. This team didn’t win the SEC (Georgia) and lost to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, but it is one of just seven teams to finish in the AP top three in LSU history.

9. 2006 (11-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Les Miles

The 11-2 team was simply a glimpse of what was to come the following year and was just the fourth team in school history to reach 11 wins (1958, 2003, '05). This team ranked ninth nationally in scoring offense (33.7) and fourth nationally in scoring defense (12.6). This team was stacked with elite talents who would go on to win a national title the next year and losses to two top-five opponents on the road — at No. 3 Auburn and at No. 5 Florida — were the only thing keeping LSU from competing for a national title. The ’06 Tigers finished No. 3 in the AP poll after crushing Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

10. 1970 (9-3, 5-0) 
Head Coach: Charles McClendon

From 1936 to 1970, LSU won just two SEC titles, but head coach Charles McClendon returned the Tigers to SEC relevance in 1970 with a league championship. Consensus All-American defenders Tommy Cassanova and Mike Anderson led a defense that allowed just 9.4 points per game. This team defeated ranked opponents Auburn (No. 6), Alabama (No. 19) and Ole Miss (No. 16) and its losses came against No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Nebraska and Texas A&M. The SEC champs finished No. 7 in the AP poll.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

The best of the rest:

1986 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Archer*
1987 (10-1) Head Coach: Mike Archer
2005 (11-2) Head Coach: Les Miles
1962 (9-1-1) Head Coach: Charles McClendon
1946 (9-1-1) Head Coach: Bernie Moore
1935 (9-2) Head Coach: Bernie Moore*
1988 (8-4) Head Coach: Mike Archer*
1996 (10-2) Head Coach: Gerry DiNardo
2010 (11-2) Head Coach: Les Miles
1969 (9-1) Head Coach: Charles McClendon

* - SEC champs

Related College Football Content

Ranking the Top 50 QBs of the BCS Era
Ranking the Top 50 RBs of the BCS Era

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013

Ranking the SEC Coaching Jobs for 2013

SEC 2013 Spring Storylines to Watch

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013

College Football's Top 5 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

CFB Conferences: 
CFB Teams: 

Home Page Infinite Scroll Left