Early Tiger gets the win, LSU kicks off SEC schedule this morning

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

Oh, goodness. It’s that time again. Set the blasted early alarm. Wipe the sleep out of your eyes and crank up the tailgate pits early. Maybe a breakfast beer is in order.

Yes, another one of those games LSU fans have been complaining about since Jefferson-Pilot invented them for television.

The Tigers are playing at the gawdawful hour of 11 a.m. again today, this time opening Southeastern Conference play on the road against Mississippi State (2-0).

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The horrors.

What was it former LSU head coach Bill Arnsparger said about these affairs? “It takes our fans a little longer to get ready for the games.”

Complicating matters today, it’s a game that could clear up what the happy medium is between the Tigers’ 45-24 loss to Florida State and the 72-10 walkover last week against Grambling State.

Bad timing for such an eye-opening inconvenience, perhaps.

Somebody has to do it.

And there’s probably no perfect time to visit the self-styled StarkVegas.

But evidently the early wake-up calls bother Tigers fans more than LSU football players, who’ll have to leave their Tupelo hotel at 7:40 a.m. to get to Starkville in time for a proper warm-up before kickoff.

And when the sun is just creeping up, maybe it can neuter Tiger Stadium to some degree.

Away from Baton Rouge is a different story for the Tigers.

What if you were to learn that the Tigers, who supposedly much prefer a nocturnal lifestyle, can thrive in the morning if you can get them away from their complaining fans.

What if you were to learn that LSU has won nine of its last 10 road games that began at 11 a.m.

And the one loss might deserve an asterisk. It was 2020 against Missouri, a game that was moved from Baton Rouge to Columbia at the last minute to get out of the way of Hurricane Delta, which ended up hitting Lake Charles.

Otherwise the Tigers have been on quite a morning roll.

Maybe it’s the Cowbell Maroon Philharmonic who should be protesting.

Starkville has been the Tigers’ most frequent stop for 11 a.m. road games — and LSU is 4-0 against the Bulldogs when in Davis-Wade Stadium at the bewitching hour.

Use last year as an example. LSU played two 11 a.m. games, one in Tiger Stadium, one on the road.

The one at home Tennessee beat the Tigers 40-13. But on the road, despite temperatures in the teens in Fayetteville, Arkansas, LSU didn’t play well and quarterback Jayden Daniels played through the flu, but the Tigers managed an ugly 13-10 win over the Razorbacks.

That latter game clinched the Southeastern Conference West and a spot in the conference championship game for the those Tigers, who also lost to Florida State to open their season.

Today’s trip for the first-ever game head coach Brian Kelly has coached in the state of Mississippi, opens conference play for the Tigers.

“You just have to deal with all the things that playing on the road in the SEC is about, it’s a real challenge,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to deal with travel, playing at 11 a.m., the cowbells.

“But you do it with preparation and then your performance. If you play really well you don’t have to deal with those distractions. If you’re not playing well, you’re going to hear any team’s fans’ slogans … whatever they have …”

Cowbells was probably the word he was searching for.

LSU’s chore today is to silence them, no matter the hour.