Each week I (Matt) will highlight my LSU gameday experience as I find the Best Places to Watch the Tigers. To request that Matt attend your party, or to suggest Best Places to Watch The Tigers: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was almost a standard Saturday in Baton Rouge as the Tigers got set to pound the Huskies: tailgaters were amassing the grounds around the stadium, completely shutting down many roads; ladies were strutting from one keg-tapped tailgate to another, reminding visiting fans that Baton Rouge has much more than NFL-bound football players; and, of course, there was a confidence in the air that is only espoused from SEC football culture. And I don’t think anyone really questioned whether the Tigers would fail to devour the Huskies. What was shocking, though, was that it wasn’t 100 degrees, and the humidity wasn’t at 100 percent.
In short, it was perfect. Unless you were in a car. I watched an out-of-town driver ask a traffic cop, who was pointing him to a detour, about the best way to get “out of the campus.”
“There is no way, you’re stuck,” the policeman laughed at him. “Good luck!” He smiled and waved him on through the detour.
Tailgating was in full swing by noon. Doubly glad to not be driving on such a day, I had no qualms about taking my cup to several lawn parties as the day wore on. I spent a few hours hanging out on the Parade Grounds, a large field near the center of campus commonly known for its wealth of shade for the afternoon reader, space for the pick-up football or Ultimate Frisbee game and protection for weekend-warrior fans tipping back their cups. If you are college-aged, this is the place to be Saturday before the game.
Which brings me to my next point: If you haven’t seen SEC tailgating, you haven’t seen real tailgating at all.
“…And I’m not even kidding, I’m going to get so hammered today!” A brunette with dark eyes and a shapely figure said, perhaps a little too loudly, as she spilled just a few drops of golden liquid on her tight, purple LSU shirt.
“Slap hands!” I greeted her, as she had basically shouted her intentions for the day in my face.
She was standing with a group of students among the field of LSU tents, purple-and-yellow-clad students and make-shift parties: three juniors, one senior and a small host of freshman and sophomore sorority girls. They were English, Communications, Economics and Physics majors—practical things that would ensure a job when each graduated.
Conversation soon grew into a few games of the ever-popular drink-as-much-as-you-can-and-as-fast-as-you-can, in which I participated only lightly. And before long, I was invited to spend the evening watching the game with them—either there on the grounds or back at one of the girls’ room. It’s not hard to appreciate Southern hospitality when its 5’3” and looking up at you with big blue eyes.
Unfortunately—whether for me or her, I’m still not sure—I declined on account of, among other things, my girlfriend. And as it was getting toward game time, I decided it might be best if I looked elsewhere for this week’s Best Place to Watch The Tigers. Don’t worry though—the Parade Grounds will be featured in weeks to come.
It was just that I had received word of a friend who was cooking dinner at his home for the game. If you know anything about Southern cooking—real Southern cooking, not Wal-Mart burgers and brats for student tailgating—then you can sympathize with my decision. And besides, is there really a better place than a friend’s to watch the game?
No mess. No clean up. No worrying about one of the guys accidentally jumping into your television because, well, let’s be honest here: most everyone has had a little too much to drink.
So a few hours later, I watched LSU fumble the opening kickoff with a group of friends around a big screen TV and a lot of food—though, in honor of full disclosure: the food was all vegan.
I was a little worried about such a rough start (and the impending vegan food)! But then I realized that Washington quarterback Keith Price hasn’t been the same this year as he was against Baylor in last season’s Alamo Bowl. That continued to ring true throughout the rest of the game. The Huskies failed to do anything offensively after they converted the game-opening fumble for three points.
We all cheered loudly as Alfred Blue outsprinted the secondary for a 21-yard score with just a little over 11 minutes to go in the first quarter; we did it again when fullback J.C. Copeland powered his way to a one-yard score with just over two minutes left.
“Check out my buddy, Josh Dworaczyk—No. 68—on the offensive line,” said a former LSU lineman who was sitting nearest the TV. “He’s making his 28th start for us tonight, and he’s really playing his butt off.”
Dworaczyk, the sixth-year senior who filled in for left tackle Chris Faulk after his season-ending knee injury last week, had a good game, if the Tigers’ 252 rushing yards on 52 carries has anything to say about his performance. Though, for what it’s worth, I think it was actually only his 27th career start, all of which have been at left tackle.
And speaking of offense, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that everyone in the room noticed junior starting quarterback Zack Mettenberger and his ability to throw the ball. This, if you weren’t paying attention last year, is a big deal!
Backing our opinions up is Matt Hayes of Sporting News, who mentioned that LSU has “an NFL quarterback now.”
All I can say is that his 12-for-18 passing attempts and one touchdown looked pretty good, considering that most of those six incompletions were actually dropped passes. He could easily be the necessary link in the Tiger’s recently elusive quest for another national championship.
LSU kicked two field goals in the second quarter to end the half 20-3; it was clear that the most interesting part of the night was going to be the food, vegan or not. We ate home-style: asparagus, couscous and pasta with vegan cheese. It actually wasn’t bad (i.e., food awesomeness).
After dinner we all continued to cheer, though with increasingly less enthusiasm, for Kenny Hilliard’s three-yard touchdown, and Mettenburger’s beautiful 32-yard touchdown toss to Kadron Boone. After that, though, it was clear that everyone at the house—and the stadium—was beginning to lose interest in what was clearly the Tigers’ latest slaughtering.
Later in the second half—after the score was 41-3—conversation turned to defense. And by defense I mean ESPN’s repeated zooming in on Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, LSU’s defensive back who was suspended for the season.
“What did he do again?” a blonde girl asked from the dining room table as she held up the original Honey Badger YouTube video on her iPad.
“Oh he failed a drug test…like six times” said a dark-haired man in a purple LSU polo.
“Yeah, it’s more like he failed to pass any drug test.”
Unfortunately for him, the rest of the city is going to continue to party their way through another LSU run at the national championship while he sits in the stands. And with friends who can cook like they’re from Baton Rouge, I’m certainly no exception. Which reminds me: party responsibly, even as you’re picking up a beverage from your favorite drive-through margarita place.
To request that Matt attend your party, or to suggest Best Places to Watch The Tigers: email email@example.com.
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