Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
LSU Tigers and their rabid followers prefer to wait for the cover of night, a chilled alcoholic beverage in one hand and the remote in the other.
But there are times when circumstances rule men, and their football aspirations, and not the other way round. The best, biggest, most memorable LSU home games always seem to be at night, but the almighty television dollar sometimes demands otherwise.
Saturday is one of those times. The Tigers are entertaining victims, er, guests in their den this early for the first time since 2008, a tropical September afternoon and CBS television cameras (which, almost comically, require the stadium lights to be on) serving as the backdrop for the always huge SEC West showdown between LSU and Auburn.
Chance of rain (and lightning)? Never. Hopefully at least it won’t strike twice in the same football season. Chance of heatstroke? Pretty darned high. If Auburn players and coaches pull out cigars to celebrate their first win in Tiger Stadium since 1999, the stogies may ignite on their own.
C’est la vie. Lather on the sunscreen, wear a hat and fill that flask you tape to your leg with cold water instead of bourbon. You’ll thank me long about the third quarter.
Either way, this game is worth the risk. It’s got massive implications for both sides, a chance, shall we say it, to seize the day.
Carpe diem, Tigers. Both of you have a huge opportunity before you.
There are two massive SEC West contests Saturday, this one and Ole Miss at Alabama — games that will shape the division race like a huge public works project.
For Auburn, it’s a chance to reclaim the favorite’s status. Those Tigers are 2-0 but wobbled to the finish in their season opener with now 0-3 Louisville and managed to survive FCS-level Jacksonville State in overtime with one paw clutching their throat. Rarely did a team more deserve an earth-shaking upset than did Auburn, which avoided the humiliation of an all-time upset with a 27-20 overtime win.
For LSU, it’s a chance to become a major player again, from bum — if you can be that after “only” going 8-5 like Auburn did a year ago — to a contender in the best Terry Malloy sense.
With the McNeese State game lightning struck from the record, LSU’s first two games against Mississippi State and Auburn set up like one of the Tigers’ defense-be-darned power runs into the line. It’s a tough task to make something positive happen, but were LSU to break through the first line of defense a la Leonard Fournette, the field would open invitingly before the Tigers.
A touchdown or more favorite to beat Auburn on Saturday, LSU will certainly also be favored in its next five games: at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, at South Carolina, Florida and Western Kentucky. Great chance LSU would be 7-0 going into its Nov. 7 showdown at Alabama.
November is a meat-grinder for LSU, which then comes home to play Arkansas, travels to Ole Miss and hosts Texas A&M. But if LSU wins this one, the Tigers’ confidence and momentum could build tsunami-like into something potentially overpowering. It’s a team singed by the fire of nearly blowing a 21-6 third-quarter lead at Mississippi State last week, but perhaps enlightened as well.
“We’re a young team with some veterans, and if they make a decision that they want to be very, very special, they’re going to have to commit to it, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but this team has a lot of talent,” Les Miles said. “I’m going to suggest that they need to make that kind of commitment.”
Auburn was expected to have the right stuff this year but hasn’t shown it so far. People were saving a seat for Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson a seat at the Heisman Trophy presentation before he even took a snap this season.
And now? Well, let’s just say hell hath no fury like a sportswriter made to look foolish.
“A complete snow job,” wrote The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes, emblematic of the shade being thrown on Auburn this week. (Oh for some shade Saturday!) “And we all bought into it. Now this Auburn team, after two shaky games to begin this season, rolls into the heavy lifting portion of the program: the SEC West. That fun little ride where teams like LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be waiting to experience that preseason hype.
“The same mistakes in those games (as in the first two) will leave Auburn with a feeling unlike 2014: a losing record. Buy into that hype.”
Auburn can buy back its hype with a win over LSU. Or LSU can buy a piece of Auburn’s preseason praise at a discount with a win.
One way or the other, the Tigers will seize the day in a big way.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.