LSU fans thrilled with stunning win in Tuscaloosa
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As the sea of crimson and white flooded out of Bryant-Denny Stadium, the chants of “L-S-U” and “Geaux Tigers” remained.
LSU kicked the last field goal that ended a defensive overtime thriller in the 9-6 finish Saturday night.
The so-called Game of the Century ended with LSU remaining No. 1 nationally.
“Euphoria,” said LSU fan Krista Allen, of Baton Rouge, after the game.
“To come in here — where you keep hearing ‘Alabama’ in your face — is just amazing,” she said.
“It was an epic battle of field goals,” said Dan Weber, of Baton Rouge. “It lived up to the billing. Those were two phenomenal teams.”
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said, “you can’t put a price tag” on what such a huge win means for the entire university, not just the athletic program.
“The two best teams in the country. The two best defenses in the country,” Alleva said. “It’s only fitting that it came down to overtime and a field goal to win it.”
Both teams were largely stifled offensively, but LSU never missed a field goal, while Alabama missed three long ones and LSU blocked another one to boot.
Now, let the talk of a national championship rematch continue.
Before the game, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin predicted, “You’ll feel the whole town vibrate.”
He was referring to the reaction in Baton Rouge, not Tuscaloosa.
Martin said major games such as the LSU-Alabama matchup are fundraising bonanzas for the university. He said that it was so much the case with this game that he gave up his own seats.
“There were so many donors who wanted tickets that I decided it was a good sacrifice,” Martin said.
Game day brought heavy crowds of people streaming onto the Alabama campus hour by hour.
The day started off cordially enough and then the crowds grew more intense as kickoff approached.
Police officers walking with Alabama fans were even seen getting the “Tiger Bait” treatment.
Maybe the best case of friendly rivalries on campus was at arguably the largest joint LSU-Alabama tailgate on campus.
The LSU Krewe of Them Dudes, or KOTD for short, the LSU HATT tailgaters and Bama’s Ultimate Tailgating Team, or BUTT, all teamed up for “The Best of Friends 364-23” tailgate.
The party featured dance-offs and a DJ switching back and forth between LSU and Alabama songs.
“I think it really brings the rivalry to its finest,” said LSU graduate Kathleen Robinson, of Baton Rouge.
KOTD organizer Steven “Blue” Smith, of Baton Rouge, said 2011 featured the biggest party since the krewe members inadvertently started tailgating together in 2005.
“They come to Baton Rouge. We go to Tuscaloosa, and we always have the biggest tailgate,” Smith said.
BUTT founder Randy Darby, of Tuscaloosa, who has an “A” shaved into the top of his head, said members of the group became friends in 2005 after some of the LSU krewe “accidentally parked” in his tailgating spot.
“It’s gotten to be such a good experience now we even take vacations together,” Darby said.
The morning started out on campus when the Guinness World Record was set for the largest pot of gumbo ever made at the LouisiBama Gumbo Bowl to raise funds for Tuscaloosa tornado victims.
Celebrity Louisiana chef John Folse and restaurateur and former Alabama football star Bob Baumhower spearheaded the effort that led to the creation of 3,750 pounds of seafood gumbo — not counting the giant kettle.
“This is just a great, great example of what hard work can do,” Baumhower said, “whether it’s our little event here or the ‘Game of the Century.’
“This makes you proud to be from the South,” he said.
Folse said the gumbo contained shrimp, crabmeat, oysters and even some alligator and catfish, all from the Gulf Coast.
“I can’t think of a better place in America to break a record, especially a food record,” Folse said, before adding that the gumbo cooks hope to top the record next year in Baton Rouge.
Then it was time for the tailgating and pre-partying to really kick into a high gear.
LSU fan Charles Songy, of New Iberia, was among one of the few LSU groups to successfully secure a spot in the packed Alabama campus Quad area of tents and tailgating.
“We’re in the hornets’ nest,” Songy said. “We just wedged our little tent in, set up the (television) satellite, and we’re cooking some andouille gumbo.”
They made their peace with rival neighbors by sharing satellite services, he said.
“We’re good corporate citizens,” he added with a laugh.
Songy was among the countless LSU fans who made the trip without tickets to the game just for the “experience.”
LSU senior Megan Polis and her friends also counted themselves among the ticket-less. Polis said they did not even know where they would sleep Saturday night.
Polis described it as a can’t-miss game, even if she could not make it inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“It’s basically the national championship,” she said. “We’re going to be talking about it forever.”
The day also was a family affair.
LSU senior Evan Gerrets, of New Orleans, attended his first game in Tuscaloosa after a joint tailgate in the Quad with his friends and his Crimson Tide-loving, Tuscaloosa-based aunt and uncle and other relatives.
“We bring food on food on food,” Gerrets said, noting that all the Louisiana attendees handled the cooking, while quickly noting they were serving jambalaya, fried shrimp, stuffed duck, venison and much more.
Alabama tailgating cannot match LSU, Gerrets said, “But it’s a very good atmosphere. I’m enjoying it.”