There is absolutely nothing like Saturday night in Death Valley. Nothing.
I’ve often talked about how much I loathe the drive to and from Baton Rouge; it’s tedious, and once you get past the second swamp bridge there really isn’t anything to see. Sure, the countryside of Louisiana is beautiful–as is the countryside of every Southern state, to be sure–but after awhile it become rather humdrum, and when you’ve made the drive as often as we have, yeah…it gets boring. It’s about eighty miles total, give or take, from the Lost Apartment to Tiger Stadium, and it really seems to take forever.
The only thing worse is the drive home after dark.
As I said the other day, being an LSU fan is a lot of fun–if sometimes not necessarily good for your blood pressure or your heart. The Tigers have almost always been a strong defensive team with an okay offense–conservative and methodical, rarely passing, always trying to grind out yards in the run game. The dull offense has resulted in LSU’s inability to recruit outstanding quarterbacks–if you’re never going to get to pass much, pretty much anyone can take a snap and give the ball off to a running back. LSU occasionally has had outstanding quarterbacks–JaMarcus Russell and Zack Mettenberger come to mind–but the offense never really changed very much; they might have gotten to pass more regularly than the usual stand-in quarterback, but not enough to have made a difference. LSU has always had an elite level defense that kept us in games and made up competitive…and then Joe Burrow transferred in from Ohio State last year. Joe’s arm and competitive spirit raised what many experts thought would be an average LSU team to a higher level; losing only three games (two of which were close and could have, should have, gone out way; only Alabama really put a beating on the Tigers–and frankly, losing to Alabama might be frustrating, but they are the program of the decade and the standard to which all other SEC teams must be held) and giving us some hopes for this season.
No matter what we might have been hoping for, this team and the new offense was something we never could have expected, nor dreamed.
Tiger Stadium was rocking last night, and I can honestly say once the game started I maybe sat down no more than two or three minutes of the game. It was so loud my ears were ringing and I couldn’t hear myself think most of the time. This morning, I have no voice and every muscle and joint in my body is aching, as is my lower back. (I’d hoped to get things done today, but I suspect I’m going to by lying in my easy chair most of the day recovering) What a game.
What a game.
LSU and Florida has turned into a major rivalry. Back in the aughts, LSU and Florida were consistently the two best teams in the conference (until the resurgence of Alabama in the latter part of the decade); the winner of the LSU-Florida game won the national championship three years in a row (2006-2008). This year, both teams were again undefeated and ranked in the Top Ten: LSU at number five, Florida at number seven. A night game in Tiger Stadium. LSU took the opening kick-off and marched down the field until the drive stalled, and a field goal attempt was wide right. The defense forced a three-and-out, and on the very next drive LSU took a 7-0 lead. The rest of the first half was a seesaw, with LSU going ahead and Florida coming back. At half-time the score was 21-21; Florida got the second half kick-off and had what looked like an easy drive to take their first (and as it turned out, only) lead of the game 28-21. They also made it look so damned easy…the stadium quieted and I thought to myself, oh no. But the Tigers counterpunched and tied the score 28-28…and that was it. The defense bent but never broke again–including an amazing interception in the end zone, and a goal line stand in the closing minutes of the game in which Florida failed to score despite running eight plays, starting at the LSU nine yard line (a bogus pass interference call in the end zone on fourth down–the officiating was a disgrace and an embarrassment to the SEC and the NCAA–gave Florida first-and-goal from the four and they didn’t get it) and the stadium was rocking the entire time.
When Derek Stingly made that interception in the end zone I jumped up into the air screaming–and when I came back down, I swear I could feel the stadium shaking under my feet as everyone just was going absolutely nuts.
God, how I love Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium.
Afterward, as we drove home in the pitch black of a Louisiana country night, exhausted and happy and drained of energy, I remarked to Paul, “And our unbeaten streak continues.” LSU has never lost a game when we are in the stadium; we often joke we should get complimentary season tickets just for that reason alone.
And again, there is absolutely no reason why our final record for the season shouldn’t be, at worst, 10-1.