GREATEST MOMENTS | Tulane recaptured glory days with 1973 upset of LSU


Tulane-greatest-1There was a time Tulane ranked with the best in Southeastern Conference football.

In 1934, the Green Wave finished 10-1 and beat Temple 20-14 in the inaugural Sugar Bowl, kicking off a New Orleans New Year’s Day tradition. Tulane went 8-0 in the SEC, including a 13-12 win against bitter rival LSU.

In 1939, the Green Wave again went undefeated in the SEC, including a 33-20 win against LSU. The 1949 team won the SEC but lost to LSU.

Nine losing seasons followed a 6-4 season in 1956, and in 1965 Tulane left the SEC to become an independent. The Green Wave continued to play LSU, though, and continued losing — until Dec. 1, 1973.

In the sports moment judged the greatest in Tulane history, the Green Wave beat LSU that night, 14-0.

A record Tulane Stadium crowd of 86,340 watched Tulane end a 24-game losing streak to their bitter rival. At that time, it was the largest crowd to gather for a night football game.

“You can’t believe the scene in Tulane Stadium,” Angus Lind, a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, said in 2006. “It could hold 82,000 and it was packed and there was just euphoria. I thought about my dad and how happy he would have been. It was a big deal because you didn’t know how long it would be until we won again.”

That would be in 1981 and 1982, but Tulane hasn’t won since. The teams haven’t played since 2009.

But the 1973 game meant the world to Tulane. In 1972,  LSU stopped Tulane at the 1-yard line as time expired to win 9-3.

The Green Wave started the 1973 season 6-0, moving up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, then lost at Kentucky, 34-7. Victories against Navy and Vanderbilt followed, then the Green Wave lost at Maryland, 42-9.

Next up: No. 8 LSU, which was coming off a 21-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama.

Tulane took a 7-0 lead on Terry Looney’s 37-yard pass to tight end Darwin White. It was White’s only TD reception of the season. Lyndon Lasiter scored on a 1-yard set up by Doug Bynum’s 53-yarder for a 14-0 lead.

Tulane heled LSU to 220 totals yards, 12 first downs and made three interceptions — two by safety Doug Greiner.
Both teams went on to lose their bowl games, but Tulane could savor a moment that felt like old times.

“It was emotional,” former Tulane sports information director Bill Curl recalled in 2013.”We were split 50-50 with LSU fans and Tulane fans. After the game, most of the Tulane fans stood there and cheered for another hour. The morning afterward, 6:30 in the morning … there were people in the stadium who came back in and sat in the same seats they sat in the night before.”


• Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame

On the cover and above: Tulane players celebrate their 13-12 victory against LSU on Dec. 1, 1973. (Courtesy Tulane Athletic Communications)

Monday: Towson and Tulane
Tuesday: Tulsa and Union
Wednesday: Utah Valley and Valparaiso
Thursday: Vermont and VCU
Friday: VMI and Western Carolina


Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.