DIXIELAND DELIGHT - WHEN THE GAME LIVES UP TO THE HYPE
By George Somerville
In the South-East of America, College Football isn’t just a sport, it’s a religion. George Somerville of The College Chaps Podcast embarks upon an epic road trip of fourteen football cities starting with possibly the game of the century – LSU @ Alabama:
History is littered with sporting events hyped to the max but failing to live up to those massive expectations.
Travelling 6,000 miles for nearly 24 hours straight from London, UK to Tuscaloosa, Alabama certainly puts the trip in to the category of “is this going to be worth it?”.
Arriving in Tuscaloosa late on Friday you could tell that this sleepy college town had been propelled in to the centre of the football universe.
By Saturday morning, the craziness had been dialled all the way up to eleven. Parking the car on campus but still a 20 minute walk to the stadium, you could instantly hear the crowds. And this was at 7.30am. College tailgating needs to be seen to be believed but on Saturday it was tailgating on steroids. It was enabled by the presence of College Game Day and SEC Nation both being broadcast live and across the road from each other. As you would expect, the game’s media had descended upon the campus, including the excellent Stick to Football guys who were podcasting live from campus with special guests Landon Collins and Jacob Hester.
But this detracts from the game itself. The presence of President Trump at the game meant security was tight and everyone encouraged to to get into the game early.
Not being my first rodeo I got into the stadium early meaning I missed the chaos of thousands of drunken college kids accessing the stadium. Bryant Denny is a tall stadium which meant that once inside you climb and climb and climb to your seat. There was definitely a need for oxygen by the time I reached row 21 (and there was still another 19 rows beyond me).
Once the Million Dollar band had entertained us and the Marines had parachuted the game ball on to the hands of the referee, it was game time.
A fan base which has been roundly criticised by its head coach for taking things for granted, for being quiet and for not backing the team to the ends of games, rose to its feet as one. And roared. Coming from a Glasgow I’m used to raucous, boisterous crowds. I’ve been to more Old Firm games than I can recall. I have also been to many NFL games, including US Bank stadium to see the Vikings take on the Packers. I’ve been at the Big House to see the Wolverines play State. But nothing compares with the noise that came out of Bryant Denny on that Saturday afternoon. SEC football is on a different level.
The tone of the game was set with Tua’s fumble in the very early stages of the game. The following LSU touchdown gave the Tigers the lead which they never relinquished. Despite a talented Bama offence pegging back the Tigers lead on a recurring basis, the Alabama defence had a difficult day. Joe Burrow showed every inch why he is hotly tipped as a Heisman favourite, driving the Tigers to victory. But it wasn’t a one man show and the excellent Clyde Edwards Hellaire had a career defining game. Bama misses Dylan Moses much more than it cares to admit.
Second Half Fightback
Despite impressive performances from Jerry Jeudy, Najee Harris and Jaylen Waddle, a less than fit Tagavailoa meant that they could not grip the game and dominate. With a seemingly impossible 20 point deficit at the half and no doubt a Saban rage ringing in their ears, seemed to drive Alabama to greater things. Twice the Tide brought the game back to a one score deficit, but Joe Burrow and the Tigers showed why they are the number one school in the country.
It was an epic encounter which lived up to all the billing and more. Right up to the final minute when a blown coverage let LSU cement their win, the home crowd yelled their collective lungs until there was nothing left to yell. Of that Saban could have no complaint.
As games go it was one of the best I have seen, let alone been at. It was an epic experience.
I have never had any doubt that College football sits out on its own as the best sport to watch and I am somewhat biased (snobbish) that SEC football is the best of College. So in this respect I scored a home run.
Next stop is Florida State, which I expect to be less intense. But it’s still college. What’s not to love.
College Football > NFL.
George is currently travelling the Deep South of America immersing himself in the College Football experience. He’ll be recounting his adventure throughout right here at The Touchdown.
Tuscaloosa – Scooba – Starkville – Oxford – Baton Rouge – New Orleans – Mobile – Tallahassee – Tampa – Orlando – Jacksonville – Gainesville – Athens – Georgia
Feture Image Credit: Getty Images
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.