Two games, one night, one city: Fans dodge raindrops in BR
BATON ROUGE – Two teams from along Mississippi’s I-55 corridor made their way to Louisiana’s capital city Saturday night for conference showdowns.
The home teams had different results, but the atmospheres were much the same.
The scores were 45-16, LSU defeating Ole Miss, and 20-3, Southern losing to Alcorn State. But the most significant number of this night was 150,000 – the combined estimated numbers on both campuses with an SEC rival at LSU and homecoming at Southern. And that was with off-and-on showers throughout the night.
As the final seconds were ticking off the clock on the Bluff, the first quarter was just coming to a close across town. In other words, it was a good excuse to check out two games on the same night.
Five hours and 47 minutes after toe met leather on the north side of town, Ed Orgeron and Matt Luke were shaking hands on the other side.
LSU fans saw their team continue their surprisingly fast start, jumping to a big first-half lead before effectively coasting to victory to finish off September at 5-0.
The good news on this night was the effectiveness of the Tiger offense, albeit against a not-ready-for-primetime Rebel defense.
With seven different runners toting the ball and nine different pass-catchers on the receiving end of Joe Burrow passes, LSU rolled up 573 total yards – easily its best night of the year.
The only question about the offense was this: Why was Burrow running the football with a 22-point lead late in the game, exposing him to take a shot from an Ole Miss defender as he crossed the goal line with the final Tiger touchdown of the night? Was it not time to see Myles Brennan?
Ironically, it was just the opposite for Southern. Against a very good Alcorn State defense that leads the SWAC in just about every defensive category, the Jaguars managed just 139 yards and a third-quarter field goal that was set up by a long kickoff return.
The near-capacity homecoming crowd did have one thing to hang its hat on – the Human Jukebox delivered as always, during the game and at halftime.
One of the discussion topics on the television broadcast from longtime HBCU football analyst Jay Walker was the rankings created by the ESPN microsite The Undefeated of top HBCU marching bands, which currently has the Human Jukebox ranked sixth.
That’s like calling Drew Brees the 10th-best quarterback in the NFL. Name the ones who are better.
While Southern fans can debate where their band should be ranked, LSU fans can wonder how high their football team should be ranked. The two teams just in front of them in the AP poll – Clemson and Ohio State – had to rally late to escape with victories on this Saturday.
Until then, there appeared to be a significant gap between Nos. 1-4 and 5-130 in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Not that it makes being No. 5 any less. All it takes is one slip-up by a team in front to put Ed Orgeron’s team in a coveted top-four position.
There’s a long way to go in the regular season – and two huge games in the next five weeks in Tiger Stadium with Georgia and Alabama coming to town.
Regardless, this now has a chance to be a special football season in Baton Rouge. And Saturday was a special night.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…