Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU's Tiger Stadium, nicknamed "Death Valley"

Bayou Bengal Briefing: Clemson or LSU? Which is the real Death Valley?

Nick Suss

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we discuss valleys of death, bowls both Pro and Senior, the biggest of wigs and much, much more. Enjoy!

Will the real Death Valley please stand up?

Just as it has on every other 5- and 4-star running back in this recruiting cycle, the LSU football team whiffed on Jennings, La., native Travis Etienne on Thursday, as the No. 1 back in the state of Louisiana committed to Clemson over LSU.

Adding insult to depravity, Etienne threw in one last jab for good measure, slinging some shade at LSU’s home stadium.

For those of you that don’t know, both LSU and Clemson claim the nickname “Death Valley” for their football stadiums. And, because sports fans love to argue sometimes, there’s a debate about which team truly deserves the nickname.

Well, to the best of my understanding, Clemson technically deserves the nickname due to the schoolyard precedent of “Finders Keepers.” The Orange Tigers earned the nickname in 1948 when it was bestowed upon them by Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan and solidified the nickname when they brought in a rock from California’s Death Valley and made it the centerpiece of their pregame tradition.

LSU, on the other hand, seems to have derived its Death Valley nickname from a layman’s misunderstanding of Cajun English. It’s long been believed that Tiger Stadium used to be nicknamed “Deaf Valley,” but that eventually morphed into the moniker we know today.

But who cares about that? That’s all ancient history anyway. Let’s look at a tale of the tape to see which stadium deserves the nickname more:

LSU Clemson
Capacity 102,321 81,500
Active Streak L1 W1
All-Time W-L 413-149-18 (73.5%) 292-100-7* (74.5%)

(Why the asterisk on Clemson’s all-time home record? Clemson’s official website lists its season-by-season records through 2005, but its home attendance through 2006. When tabulating the results, I wasn’t sure whether to include Clemson’s 5-2 2006 home record. I did, and the results reflect that. The percentage doesn’t change beyond the fourth decimal point with or without the 2006 numbers included.)

If you look at that matchup, it’s still a really close fight. LSU blows Clemson out of the water in attendance every year because of the bigger capacity, but Clemson holds an edge in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately department with a 39-3 home record since 2011.

As for history, Clemson holds a narrow lead over LSU in winning percentage, but LSU’s total wins dwarf Clemson.

This is a tale-of-the-tape too close to call. Given that my readership is primarily LSU-based, I’m not going to pick Clemson, though. I’m going to call it a tie. Fair? Can we compromise here?

Please don’t eat me alive in the comments.

Bowl talk, part 1

The Senior Bowl is Saturday in Mobile, Ala. Three former LSU football players are expected to take part in the game, but that’s a bit of a drop off from what it could’ve been.

Linebacker Duke Riley, center Ethan Pocic and wide receiver Travin Dural will all participate for the Tigers. But they’ll be playing without headlining cornerback Tre’Davious White, who will be held out of the game with an ankle injury. That’s on top of linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who hasn’t played since November when he tore his ACL versus Florida.

If you’re looking for a breakdown of what Riley, Pocic and Dural have to prove, here’s a primer I wrote Thursday. If you’re looking to watch the game itself, you can tune into the NFL Network at 1:30 p.m. CT. I plan on watching, too. If you want to follow along with my analysis, feel free to follow me on the Twitter machine @nicksuss.

Bowl talk, part 2

The Pro Bowl stinks. It’s the worst. But it’s happening. And if you truly miss football that much, you can at least follow along with some former LSU football players in the game.

By my count, there are five former LSU football players in the Pro Bowl this year, most of whom made it in as replacements. Here’s who to look out for in Sunday’s action:

  • New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (NFC)
  • Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (AFC)
  • Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (AFC)
  • Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Trai Turner (NFC)
  • Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (NFC)

The Pro Bowl is Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. If you’re excited to watch it, you might have a problem.

LSU football Twitter is the best Twitter

Judging by his Twitter persona, Derrius Guice is every bit as good of a Madden player as he is a real-life running back.

Multiple times Thursday, Guice reached out to his followers to ask if anyone was up for a game of Madden 17 on the PS4. And then a few hours later, Guice came back with a confident declaration.

The Bills are a sneaky good Madden team. Tyrod Taylor is an athletic quarterback who you can do a lot with outside the pocket. LeSean McCoy is a slippery running back who can cut on two pixels. Sammy Watkins is a dangerous pass catcher over the top if you understand user controls. And the defense is made up of speedy and athletic range defenders who play opportunistically.

The Bills aren’t the Atlanta Falcons on Madden 2004 or anything, but they’re a fun team to use. And judging by Guice’s reactions after the games, he was justified in his selection.

Think you can beat Derrius? His DMs are open. Challenge him. And then report back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing. I’ll need a full play-by-play.

Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports preview

You know the deal. No need for the spiel. Here’s a rundown of LSU’s non-football sports this weekend. If you prefer a calendar view, here you go:

  • The track and field team kicks the weekend off Friday in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Razorback Invitational. The event spans through Saturday afternoon.
  • No. 2 LSU gymnastics travels to Lexington, Ky., to face the No. 6 Wildcats. The meet begins at 6 p.m. CT.
  • The swimming and diving teams host Tulane, Houston and Rice at the LSU Natatorium on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s action begins at 5 p.m. CT and Saturday’s action opens at 10 a.m.
  • If you haven’t already given up on LSU men’s basketball, the squad is in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday to face Texas Tech in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Tigers have lost six games in a row and are 9-10 overall.
  • Men’s and women’s tennis are both participating in ITA Kickoff Weekend. The women are in Charlottesville, Va., to face Wake Forest on Saturday and either Virginia or Ole Miss on Sunday. The men are in Gainesville, Fla., and will face USF on Saturday, then either Florida or UNC Wilmington on Sunday.
  • Finally, there’s the women’s basketball team. The Lady Tigers host Arkansas at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

LSU in the NBA

It’s Friday, and on Fridays we talk about LSU basketball players in the NBA. But today, instead of our usual stat roundup, how about some news?

On Thursday, the Denver Nuggets signed former Tiger Johnny O’Bryant to a 10-day contract, beginning immediately.

Prior to the signing, O’Bryant had been playing for the Phoenix Suns affiliate in the D-League, averaging 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. O’Bryant played 66 games — starting four — in the NBA last season, averaging 3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the ever-wise ones over at, Friday is “National Big Wig Day.” It seems like Big Wig Day is a well-intentioned knockoff of Red Nose Day where you wear wigs to work and donate money to the National Cancer Society.

I don’t quite understand how it works, but if you do, please donate. Or wear a funny wig.

But, to spin this into an LSU focus like we always do, let’s use today’s occasion to talk about the LSU athletics big wig, Joe Alleva.

Alleva was in attendance for LSU’s embarrassing basketball loss to Florida on Wednesday night and he didn’t use the occasion to make a change at head coach. Nor should he have. But it begs the question: What would it take for Alleva to fire Johnny Jones midseason?

I don’t know if there is an answer to that. It’s looking almost certain that Alleva is going to stick with Jones all the way through the SEC Tournament. Any period after that would be a little bit surprising. But in the interim, Jones is coaching for his career.

And if he does in fact lose his job, he might need to borrow one of those big wigs we were talking about to escape Baton Rouge incognito.

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