LSU’s 2023 offense was one of the best units the sport has seen in some time. By some numbers, it was good enough to rival Joe Burrow’s 2019 offense.
The 2019 and 2023 offenses are two of the best in program history. And here, we’ll be looking at the 10 best offenses LSU ever put on the field.
This was tricky. The game has changed, and so has the way offenses are evaluated. Prolific passers and scorers are much more common now than they were in the 20th century. Yards come a dime a dozen now.
Because of that, I’ve tried my best to adjust for the era. I didn’t just use total yards and points, but I also looked at how the units performed in big games and the individual talent as well. If an offense was also good in back-to-back years and featured several of the same players, I used them once in the interest of variety.
Here’s how it all breaks down.
LSU ranked 23rd in points per game in 1971, but when you adjust for opponent, it was a top 10 unit.
The Tigers ranked top 10 nationally in OSRS and adjusted scoring. LSU’s most impressive performance came against a Notre Dame team ranked seventh in the AP Poll and fifth in scoring defense.
LSU scored 28, nearly 20 more than the 8.6 per game Notre Dame allowed that year.
This offense featured a couple of Tiger legends with QB Bert Jones and WR Andy Hamilton making major contributions.
Hamilton was one of three receivers in the country to rank top 10 in yards and touchdowns while also averaging over 18 yards per catch.
LSU ranked seventh in points per game in 1982 thanks to a talented group of skill players.
Dalton Hilliard and Gary James formed one of the best running back duos in LSU history. QB Alan Riser ranked top five nationally in completion percentage and passer rating while developing a connection with wide receiver Eric Martin.
Martin was one of the top big-play threats in the country. He ranked fourth in yards per catch among receivers with 45+ catches.
They crossed the 40-point mark on four occasions, including a 55-spot against No. 7 Florida State.
On Christmas Day 1907, LSU defeated the University of Havana in Cuba 56-0. It was the first time a college team had played on foreign soil. pic.twitter.com/3yGQKwZiCL
This was LSU’s first great team, led by superstar Doc Fenton. LSU led the country in adjusted scoring by a wide margin and was second in OSRS.
Statistically, this unit probably should be a little higher, but the south wasn’t yet the premier football region in 1908. Even so, LSU led the country in adjusted scoring by nearly 14 points. The difference separating LSU and second place Chicago was the same difference that separates second place and 23rd place.
The Tigers scored over 30 in all but three games. The highest total, 89 points, came against Baylor. LSU finished the year 10-0.
I had the 1987 offense lower on last year’s list due to its struggles in big games. After another look at the numbers, I’m bumping them up.
LSU was sixth in OSRS and 10th in adjusted scoring. Despite its struggles in big games, it was still good enough to be among the best in the sport in opponent-adjusted metrics and go 10-1-1.
The Tigers had star power with Tommy Hodson at QB, who ranked top 10 in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdowns.
Hodson was complimented by receiver Wendell Davis and running back Harvey Williams, both of whom are among the best in program history at their respective positions.
This crew set a program record for total yards per game at 440.5, and that total has only been crossed five times since then, despite the sport becoming friendlier for offenses.
1969…LSU defeats Miss State 61-6. QB Mike Hillman throws for 170 yds & 1 TD. Eddie Ray runs for 82 yds. pic.twitter.com/PjdzcPp2Th
— Vintage LSU Football (@vintagelsuftb) September 14, 2022
The advanced stats don’t like the 1969 offense as much as some of the other units on this list, but for its time, this group was elite.
LSU led the SEC in points per game and never put up less than 20. Thirty-five first downs against Ole Miss was LSU’s single-game record until the 2019 squad tied that, also against Ole Miss.
LSU’s 34.9 points per game are the fifth most in program history, a mark that wasn’t broken until 2007.
LSU ranked 18th in OSRS, lower than most on this list, and didn’t have the All-American star power of a Cannon, Burrow or Daniels, but this unit was consistent and won games.
Last year, we had the 2007 offense on here. Now, we’re switching it out for the 2006 unit, which may have been the better of the two.
The 2007 offense won a national title and averaged five more points per game, but the advanced stats like the 2006 group.
LSU finished fourth in SP+ and ninth in scoring offense while ranking fourth in College Football Reference’s adjusted yards per play.
At QB, the Tigers were led by future No. 1 overall pick Jamarcus Russell and had three receivers cross then 800-yard mark, which wasn’t as easy back then.
This was the most dangerous offense of the Les Miles era.
Last year I had this group at eight. That was probably a bit too low for an offense that led the country in points per game and led by one of the most dynamic players of his era in Gus Tinsley.
LSU won the SEC and scored 47 points against Georgia, the most the Bulldogs allowed all year. LSU scored 19 against an Auburn defense that allowed 5.7 on average and 12 against Mississippi State, who typically held opponents under five points.
Tinsey was an All-American and possessed athleticism rarely seen back then.
LSU won its first claimed national title in 1958. Many remember the defense from this team, which ranked second nationally in points allowed, but the offense did more than its part.
LSU led the SEC and was second nationally in adjusted scoring. The offense featured two of the best players in program history with Billy Cannon and Johnny Robinson in the backfield.
Cannon and Robinson were both above the 95th percentile in yards per touch. Cannon was one of just three players in the country to rack up over 800 total yards, six yards per play, and 10 touchdowns.
This unit did what it needed to do in big games. LSU scored 14 against Ole Miss, but that was against a Rebels defense that allowed 5.9 points per game on average.
LSU scored 50 against a Duke defense that didn’t allow more than 15 in any other game. LSU’s 62 and 32 points against Tulane and Kentucky were the most those two programs allowed all year too.
Last year when we did these rankings, the 1958 team held the No. 2 spot. After the display Jayden Daniels and company put on last fall, we have a new runner-up.
This offense was one of the most prolific in CFB history. LSU averaged over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Outside of the COVID year in 2020, no P5 team had done that since Oklahoma in 2018.
According to College Football Reference, LSU led the country in adjusted scoring, rushing, and passing.
Daniels proved to be the most dynamic player in the country, posting the best EPA/play ESPN’s QBR has ever tracked.
Even with the 2023 offense making a push, 2019 remains the obvious choice.
LSU’s offensive SP+ rating in 2019 was 48.4, which led the country and was nearly four points better than the 44.6 LSU posted in 2023.
We can talk about the stats, but what sets this offense apart was the talent on display. Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson have played at an All-Pro level in the NFL.
Even five offensive linemen from this team went on to start at least one game in the pros.
And then you still have Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Terrace Marshall, two guys who would have been the best player on nearly every team in the country that year.
There’s a reason the 2019 LSU team is remembered as one of the best ever. And the careers these guys are having in the NFL only continues to cement that legacy.