New York Daily News

Remembering six times LSU played in the Northeast from 1922-47

A historical look at LSU's history of playing in the Northeast.

It's been almost 70 years since LSU last played in Northeast.

That'll change this weekend when the Tigers travel to Syracuse, but it'll be the first time since the college football landscape was much different.

There was a point in history when some of the national powers were stationed north of the Mason-Dixon Line. LSU didn't exactly head up there frequently, but they did play there six times between 1922 and 1947. In honor of this weekend's road trip, let's a take a look back in time at LSU's history of games played in the Northeast.

**Editor's note: The picture above does not depict LSU, but it does take place at the iconic Polo Grounds, where LSU played twice in 1922 and 1942.

LSU vs. Rutgers | New York, N.Y. | Nov. 7, 1922 | Lost 0-25

LSU's first-ever venture north of the Mason-Dixon Line took the Tigers to one of the most iconic stadiums in American sports. The Tigers would face Rutgers at the Polo Grounds, home to the New York Giants (both football and baseball) with its odd dimensions, short left field and right field walls and an unusually deep center field. That made it great for football, and it was fitting that the first college team to ever play the sport would often use it for games.

This particular contest didn't exactly live up to the history of the stadium though. LSU was shut out by the No. 17 Scarlet, 25-0, one of five times that season the Tigers failed to score. LSU would go on to finish 3-7, but that did at least include a year-ending, 25-14 victory on Homecoming against Tulane.

LSU vs. Army | West Point, N.Y. | Nov. 7, 1931 | Lost 0-20

LSU's next trip to the Northeast had them facing the United States Military Academy. The Tigers' fans traveled well (by 1931 standards) with a couple hundred fans in attendance, including the band and a group of co-ed cheerleaders. In the stands was the wife of Gov. Huey P. Long, her three children and "Secretary of the State" Alice Lee Grosjean, Long's former assistant appointed on a whim after her predecessor's sudden death. She was never officially recognized as holding the position.

This game almost never happened though. A couple weeks prior, an Army player died from injuries he had sustained during a game against Yale. Army nearly canceled the rest of its season, but opted to play on at the request of the deceased's family.

Despite "averaging about 10 more pounds per man," as one newspaper put it, LSU was no match for Army. Les Miles would be proud to have seen the Tigers' trick plays dialed up to try and keep pace though. LSU had a "Statue of Liberty" specialist named Leroy Langley, and they even tried the "old shoestring dodge" play. Niel Mixon at one point pretended to retie his shoelaces near the sideline until the Army defense forgot him. He went out for a pass, and was wide-open but dropped the sure touchdown.

Coincidentally, LSU's next head coach would be a West Point man. Lawrence "Biff" Jones took over at LSU the following year and led the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1933. He fell out of favor with Gov. Long in 1934 though, the two getting into an altercation during a game against Oregon because Jones denied Long's demands to give the team a halftime "pep talk." Jones resigned a few weeks later.

LSU vs. Manhattan | Brooklyn, N.Y. | Oct. 12, 1935 | Won 32-0

Jones' successor, Bernie H. Moore, would take LSU back to the Northeast in his first year in charge. The Tigers faced a Manhattan team reporters said at the time was its best in years. But Moore brought with him "one of the most brilliant overhead offensives the East has seen in years," as the reports put it.

LSU scored at will against Manhattan, pulling out a 32-0 victory in what would become a 9-2 season that ended with an SEC championship but a loss in the Sugar Bowl. In a newspaper article a few days later, the LSU players were referred to as "sun-tanned plantation huskies." That's certainly one way of putting it.

LSU vs. Holy Cross | Worcester, Mass. | Oct. 7, 1939 | Won 26-7

Once again, LSU traveled to the Northeast to face a team many considered to be one of the best in the country. Like they did to Manhattan four years earlier, LSU dispatched with their northern foe in short order.

Ken Kavanaugh was LSU's hero. He accounted for all four touchdowns against Holy Cross, three catches and an interception he returned 80 yards.

Kavanaugh would be named the SEC Most Valuable Player that year and won the Knute Rockey Memorial Trophy. He'd get inducted to the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He also played eight seasons for the Chicago Bears around service in the Air Force during World War II. 

LSU vs. Fordham | New York, N.Y. | Nov. 7, 1942 | Won 26-13

Newspapers called Fordham a "double-dyed cinch to massacre the Southerners" when LSU returned to the Polo Grounds in 1942, especially after the Tigers had been throttled, 26-0, by No. 20 Tennessee on Halloween.

Fordham got off to the better start, taking a 7-0 lead into halftime. LSU cut the deficit to one with a touchdown in the third before erupting in the fourth.

LSU scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, all in the span of about six minutes. Sulcer Harris ran the first one in, threw for the second and led LSU on a long touchdown drive through the air for the third. LSU would come away with a 26-13 victory.

LSU vs. Boston College | Boston, Mass. | Oct. 17, 1947 | Won 14-13

LSU's last trip to the Northeast sent the Tigers to Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves, to face Boston College. More than 36,000 fans were in attendance to see LSU squeak out a very tight victory against the Northerners.

LSU took a quick lead within the first five minutes after recovering a fumble deep inside BC territory. LSU made it 14-0 when Zollie Toth sprinted 45 yards before halftime.

BC would mount a comeback though. They cut the deficit in half with a four-yard touchdown pass, then stopped a pair of LSU drives within 10 yards from the end zone to stay alive. BC even blocked a field goal to set themselves up 35 yards from the potential game-tying score. BC would make it the end zone on a 6-yard run, but the kicker missed the point after, leaving LSU with a 14-13 victory.


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