BATON ROUGE, La. — Game time on Saturday is late.
There are a lot of people who might be concerned about how the 8:15 kickoff time will affect the players. What are they going to do all day? Will they get tired? What if they don’t get a good night’s sleep?
This doesn’t worry me. These guys might not be professional football players, but that’s because they’re professional college students. And college students know how to stay up past 11 p.m.
If anything, I’m scared for you guys. Tigers fans, it’s you who I’m nervous about. With this weekend’s game starting 90 minutes later than usual, this potentially means 90 extra minutes of tailgating. Yeah, tailgating is fun and all, but you shouldn’t spend that much time in the sun, doing whatever illicit things you do while tailgating.
So, for those of you who are lucky enough to have tickets for the game on Saturday, here are some things you can do before you arrive, because I don’t want to lose any readers to alcohol poisoning:
- At 8 a.m. you can participate in or watch the Cane Field Classic. Just a nine-minute drive over the river from Tiger Stadium, this race has “live Cajun music, great refreshments and fresh-cut sugarcane.” Also machetes are involved. There are 300 of them. I have no idea how, but I’m just as curious as you are.
- If farmers’ markets are your thing, be sure to stop at one on your way to the stadium. There are markets in Denham Springs, New Iberia and even downtown Baton Rouge.
- If you have kids you need to entertain, then head to the Baton Rouge Zoo for “Boo at the Zoo.” It’s billed as a “merry not scary trick-or-treating experience.” That could be fun, right?
- The intellectuals among you might be interested in a lecture on the Cajun psyche as it pertains to dreams and creativity. Or maybe you just want to spend some time in the shade. Either way, read about that here.
- For a full calendar of activities in Baton Rouge on Saturday and for the rest of time, check out this calendar courtesy of The Advocate.
If none of that appeals to you, I don’t know what to tell you. Other than drink responsibly. And apply sunscreen. And I’ll see you at Tiger Stadium.
The lesser of two evils
The eyes of every SEC fan will be on Tuscaloosa, Ala., at some point Saturday, as a de facto College Football Playoff play-in game will be played between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M.
For LSU to make the SEC championship game, the Tigers will have to win out, which includes beating both Alabama and Texas A&M. So, at first glance, it might seem like LSU fans really don’t have much of a rooting interest. But they should.
I know it hurts to sound out these syllables, but LSU fans should absolutely be rooting for Alabama this weekend.
Why? Why would anyone propose this painful proposition? I have three reasons. And you better bet I’m going to list them for you:
- If LSU beats Alabama, you want it to be the Tide’s first loss. Being the second team to beat Alabama means you’ve copied someone else’s blueprint. Being the first, and likely only, team to beat Alabama instantly puts your team back in the national conversation.
- After A&M, Alabama has a bye week. Then it has LSU. Do you really want Nick Saban to be fixating on the pain of a loss for two whole weeks before he plays LSU? Alabama hasn’t lost back-to-back regular-season games since 2007. It just doesn’t happen, especially with two weeks to prepare.
- Let’s be real: As an LSU fan, wouldn’t you feel better spoiling Alabama’s title dreams than spoiling Texas A&M’s title dreams? Ruining your rival’s season is a great feeling. Don’t you want to be the one who does it?
Four Friday feelings
We’re all humans here. That means we have feelings. Here are four feelings I think people might be feeling right now:
1. LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger feels: overwhelmed.
Not the bad kind of overwhelmed, mind you. The good kind. He has too many toys to play with this weekend. He has to get the ball to Leonard Fournette. He has to get the ball to Derrius Guice. He has to continue growing LSU’s deep passing attack by getting the ball from Danny Etling to Malachi Dupre and D.J. Chark. And there’s also Travin Dural. That’s a lot. It makes sense if you feel like you’re treading water, Steve.
2. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze feels: suspicious.
What do Ensminger and Ed Orgeron have up their sleeves? All week Orgeron has hinted that he wants to get Fournette and Guice onto the field together. But he’s never indicated how. Knowing Orgeron’s flair for the energetic as well as anyone, Freeze must be pulling out his hair with all the hunches he might have.
3. Derrius Guice feels: respected.
Guice leads LSU in rushing yards and tops the whole SEC in yards per carry. He’s earned his reps. Even now that Fournette is back, LSU has committed to working Guice into the game plan. There’s no better sign of respect than squeezing playing time away from a Heisman Trophy contender and future NFL first-round pick.
4. Arden Key feels: liberated.
Last year against Ole Miss, a freshman Key couldn’t muster a sack against all-world left tackle Laremy Tunsil. But Tunsil is in the NFL now. And Ole Miss still throws the ball downfield a lot, meaning Key will have ample opportunities to get after quarterback Chad Kelly. Which, bonus feeling, should make Kelly feel scared.
Your nonrevenue sports update
The football team won’t be the only squad representing LSU athletics this weekend. Here are some other events that’ll take place from Friday through Sunday.
- On Thursday night, the soccer team lost to Auburn, 2-1. The team will take the pitch for its next game Sunday when it hosts Alabama.
- Starting Friday and running through Sunday, the defending national champion men’s golf team will compete in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in Alpharetta, Ga. The No. 2 Tigers will be competing against 10 other ranked teams in this tournament, including top-10 foes Oklahoma State, Auburn, Wake Forest and Virginia.
- The women’s golf team heads to San Antonio, Texas, for the Maryb S. Kauth Invitational. The event begins Sunday and runs through Tuesday.
Arbitrary Analysis, part 5
All week, I’ve been honoring Ed Orgeron’s return to coaching against his former team by counting down the five best and most memorable Ole Miss players from Orgeron’s tenure in Oxford. Today, I unveil No. 1. But first, here’s a quick recap on who I’ve listed so far:
No. 5: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
No. 4: DL Peria Jerry
No. 3: DE Greg Hardy
No. 2: LB Patrick Willis
Cool. Let’s get on to No. 1.
No. 1: OT Michael Oher
Is there anyone else I could’ve put at No. 1? Thanks to Hollywood, the Orgeron era at Ole Miss is synonymous with the recruitment of Michael Oher, subject of the best-selling book and later major motion picture The Blind Side.
But Oher is more than just an incredible true story mined for jerking tears. He was a three-time All-SEC performer, twice first team. He was the SEC’s best offensive lineman in his years at Ole Miss following Orgeron’s firing. Oher turned that into an NFL career and a lifetime as a Super Bowl champion.
Plus, he’s the sole reason that Orgeron has a page on IMDB. No, really.
Catching up with the Joneses
LSU plans to honor College Football Hall-of-Fame inductee Bert Jones at Tiger Stadium on Saturday in advance of his induction.
This makes Jones the ninth former LSU player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the first since 2012. Jones will be inducted alongside big-name players such as Florida State linebacker Derrick Brooks, Purdue defensive back Rod Woodson and UNLV quarterback Randall Cunningham.
So what should you know about Jones, if you don’t already know much? Here’s a crash course:
- Jones is the only LSU quarterback to ever be voted a first-team All-American, earning the honor in 1972.
- To this day, Jones is ranked No. 10 in total touchdowns at LSU with 37. His 19 touchdowns in 1972 are tied for the ninth most in a single season for a Tiger.
- Jones was picked second in the 1973 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts, who chose Jones to serve as a successor to legendary passer Johnny Unitas. Jones was named the MVP of the NFL in 1976, a year where he led the league in passing yards, made his only Pro Bowl and was voted first-team All-Pro. Future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Ken Stabler, Dan Fouts, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese and Joe Namath were all active quarterbacks that season.
Help a brother out
Rickey Jefferson is bored.
Since he broke his leg last week, Jefferson hasn’t been able to play football, obviously. So, as he let the world know on Twitter, he’s taken up America’s true pastime: binge-watching Netflix.
— RAMBO (@Self_Made8_) October 21, 2016
If you have any suggestions for Rickey, please let him know. We don’t want Rickey falling into a Show Hole, do we?
My suggestion? Go for something longer, Rickey. Both of those shows are only one season long. That’s nice snackable content if you’re avoiding studying. But if you’re on bedrest? You need a saga.
Maybe what Jefferson needs is a show that feels his pain. So, how about a show about a guy with an injured leg, like House? If he wants something even more tongue-in-cheek, why not Bones? Or, if he wants to live in a world where the main character’s defining trait is that she won’t let what happened to Jefferson happen to her, why not Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Sorry. I’m done. That’s the end of my TV show title standup bit. No. Wait. I have one more. And it’s a serious suggestion for everyone.
If there’s one thing everyone needs while trying to recover from an injury, it’s optimism. Which is why he should watch the gone-too-soon FOX sitcom Raising Hope. There. I solved a made-up dilemma.