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LSU and Arkansas have a trophy rivalry that's more about wild fun than hate

This weekend’s Battle for the Boot may not have the gravitas of other trophy games, but the on-field product has been wild.

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The Little Brown Jug. The Golden Hat. The Old Oaken Bucket. Paul Bunyan's Axe. These trophies are woven into the fabric of college football. Fans, coaches and players waiting weeks, months and occasionally years to bring them home to campus.

And then, there's the Golden Boot.

LSU and Arkansas have played football against each other 60 times since 1901. Not long after the Razorbacks jumped to the SEC in 1992, the two schools decided to designate a trophy. The game was moved to Rivalry Weekend after Thanksgiving (CBS would typically put the game in a Black Friday afternoon slot) and the winner given a 4-foot-tall, 175-pound, 24-karat gold monstrosity that represents the two states stacked on top one another. LSU has won the trophy 11 times to Arkansas' seven since it debuted in 1996.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It hasn't quite worked out. The rivalry has never really taken root with some fans, at least not more so than most other conference series. It's gotten to the point that the two schools have replaced their rivalry weekend series with the SEC's new kids, who both offer hate and proximity. On the weekend after Thanksgiving, LSU now plays Texas A&M and Arkansas plays Missouri.

This year, 7-1 LSU takes on 5-4 Arkansas after a very different Week 10 for both teams. The Tigers were beaten by Alabama for their first loss of the year, knocking them temporarily out of Playoff contention, while Arkansas rebounded from a rough start to the season with a dramatic upset victory against Ole Miss.

But whether the trophy means all that much to the two programs, the rivalry on the field has brought entertainment galore in the last 15-ish years. There have been wild shootouts, crazy finishes and Heisman finalists.

  • 1999: Hal Hunter etches himself into LSU lore. The Tigers' interim head coach, replacing the recently fired Gerry DiNardo, helps the 2-8 Tigers win their only conference game of the season over a 17th-ranked Arkansas team, 35-10.
  • 2001: Houston Nutt's 24th-ranked Razorbacks get caught in a 41-38 shootout with a Nick Saban-coached LSU squad on its way to the SEC title. The two teams combine for 930 yards of total offense, 625 passing yards and six interceptions in a wild affair that features an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play.
  • 2002: The Miracle on Markham: Matt Jones completes a pair of desperation heaves in the final minute to beat LSU, including a 31-yard, game-winning touchdown to Decori Birmingham.

    Jones had completed just two passes in the previous 59 minutes. The win clinches the division title and an appearance in the SEC title game for the Hogs.
  • 2005: A 4-7 Arkansas team gives the eventual SEC West champion Tigers hell for 60 minutes in a 19-17 loss, nearly pulling off the upset in the final minute before a clinching interception by LaRon Landry.
  • 2006: A top-10 matchup that lives up to the billing as Darren McFadden and Felix Jones combine for 319 rushing yards, while Jamarcus Russell and a 92-yard kickoff return from Trindon Holliday lead LSU to a 31-26 victory.
  • 2007: McFadden gets revenge in triple-overtime with a 50-48 win over the No. 1-ranked Tigers. McFadden rushes for 206 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 3 of 6 passes and throwing another touchdown out of the Wildcat formation. Afterwards, Houston Nutt has Houston Nutt things to say:

  • 2008: The Razorbacks pull off a second Miracle on Markham as Casey Dick finds London Crawford for a 24-yard touchdown with 21 seconds left. Arkansas beats the Tigers 31-30 in Bobby Petrino's first season.
  • 2009: Jordan Jefferson leads a two-minute drill to tie for LSU, and the Tigers hold on when Arkansas' Alex Tejada misses a 36-yard field goal wide right in overtime.
  • 2010: Ryan Mallett throws a pair of 75-yard touchdowns, one of which featured LSU safety Karnell Hatcher taking out his own teammate.

  • 2011: In a No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup, the eventual SEC champion Tigers spot the Hogs a 14-point lead before a pair of forced fumbles and a 92-yard punt return by Tyrann Mathieu keys a 41-17 LSU comeback win to clinch the division.
  • 2012: The Razorbacks hold 8th-ranked LSU in check in the final game of the nightmare that was John L. Smith's season as interim head coach, 20-13. This amazing catch by Jarvis Landry wound up being the difference:
    Jarvis Landry Catch

  • 2013: The Tigers lose quarterback Zach Mettenberger to a knee injury in the final minutes, only to have freshman backup Anthony Jennings lead an eight-play, 99-yard game-winning drive in a 31-27 win.
  • 2014: In sub-freezing temperatures, with players drinking hot chocolate on the sideline, Bret Bielema picks up his first SEC win after 14 consecutive conference losses, shutting out LSU 17-0.

It may not be in the marquee Black Friday spot. It may not be the biggest game in this Saturday's lineup. And maybe the fans don't care all that much about that big ol' heavy trophy. But history tells us that the game itself will probably be worth your time on Saturday.


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