8:15 am Thursday November 1st: Flight departs Logan Airport in Boston.
2:47 pm: Plane lands in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after a layover in Atlanta. The plane was full of a combination of Alabama and LSU fans, and several media personnel heading into town to cover the biggest college football game of the year to date.
5:26 pm: After exploring the downtown section of the capital city of Louisiana, I was not impressed. The city appeared run down, consisted of no “southern charm” and was surprisingly small for a state that is most famous for New Orleans. The downtown area was nearly deserted after work hours, music and TV sound is pumped in through speakers located on the ground and unnecessary fountains pump in deafening noise.
8:18 pm: Running along the edge of the downtown area is the Mississippi River which is absolutely stunning because of its size and scale. Coming from New Hampshire there is truly nothing like it. Barges travel up and down the river transporting coal and other materials all day and night. Hotel boats are docked for the night along the banks. Unlike on the land, casinos are legal if they are located above the water. Therefore, Riverboat Casinos was a great way to spend time.
12:35 am Friday November 2nd: Bars all over downtown Baton Rouge are full with Alabama and LSU fans. There are relationships and interactions between the fanbases, unlike heated and aggressive confrontations between Red Sox and Yankees fans or Celtics and 76ers fans. Fans of one team take turns buying rounds at the bar for fans of the other team. I leave the bar between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning and return to the hotel for the night.
11:10 am: While waiting for some family members to fly into town to go to the game, I walked along the Mississippi River and explored some of the local landmarks. Possibly the most intriguing is a tour of the U.S.S. Kidd, a World War II destroyer ship that has been mostly restored and serves as a attraction as well as being not excessively long, the whole ship can be toured in an hour.
2:00 pm: With all three of my family members now present, we head to the campus located three miles away from the downtown area. LSU’s campus was not at all what I expected. Louisiana is marketed as a heavily French-influenced place, however the campus was full of buildings that resembled Spanish architecture. Overall the campus was very nice and did not have the rundown feeling of the city. Large beautiful oak trees provided a great amount of shade for what would be a hot and humid campus on many fall and spring days. Lastly LSU’s live tiger mascot had awoken. Mike VII is a Bengal tiger who resides in a certified tiger sanctuary in the middle of campus and as he prowled around his enclosure fans from both teams gathered to take his picture.
8:00 pm: The remainder of the night was spent on the strip just outside of the LSU campus visiting local bars and trying the southern cuisine. Fried catfish and alligator were the highlights of the evening and both tasted far better than their names would suggest. Having been to many college football games I begin to realize how many LSU fans are dominating the crowd. Usually the crowd is something along the lines of 80/20 between home and road fans but in Baton Rouge it seems to be much closer to 90/10.
1:00 pm Saturday November 3rd: A 7pm game time provides a nice opportunity to relax, recover and prepare for the game that pits the nation’s third ranked LSU against the country’s top ranked Alabama. We begin to make our way towards campus to find a good bar to pregame and watch some of the earlier games on TV.
3:30 pm: A large outdoor bar named Walk On’s plays host to close to a thousand fans of both teams. We have many drinks with fans from all over the country and have a great time socializing with them. As game time nears and as LSU fans say “the sun finds its home in the western sky” fans stream towards the 102,000 seat stadium nicknamed Death Valley, both because of the crowd noise and because “it is the place opponents’ dreams go to die.”
7:00 pm: With the sellout crowd in place, LSU kicks off to start the game and immediately Tiger Stadium lives up to the hype as the crowd is deafening. Following a third down sack forcing Alabama into a rare punt, the crowd goes crazy and chants of “Tiger Bait” break out.
7:30 pm: What was once an ear splitting crowd becomes silent following a LSU punt and an Alabama touchdown. In fact, every LSU possession of the first half ends with a punt. The only other loud crowd reaction comes when Alabama’s quarterback throws his first interception of the season at the LSU 4-yard line. Alabama enters halftime with a 16-0 lead.
9:30 pm: With a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Alabama puts the game away with another touchdown. The 22-0 score leaves Tiger fans without any hope of a comeback and before the game is over fans head for the exits. A garbage time score boosts Alabama to a 29-0 victory. Crimson Tide fans celebrate the win in a nearly empty stadium. I walk out and begin the hour long walk back to the downtown area in search of some food before going to bed.
10:47 am Sunday November 4th: After waking up and having breakfast at the hotel, I arrive at the airport and prepare to catch a flight back to Atlanta and then on to Boston and return home from a memorable trip to Baton Rouge.