If Ed Orgeron was aware of the Italian Stallion's Cold War-era mission to Russia to avenge Apollo Creed, he wasn't interested in discussing it Saturday morning in New Orleans.
When he was queried about Dabo Swinney's message to his Clemson squad that its trip to face LSU in Louisiana was like Sylvester Stallone's character heading to Russia in 'Rocky IV' to face off with Ivan Drago, Orgeron didn't play into the narrative.
"I don't know much about that, but I think those motivational tactics are for the other team, and obviously he's done a great job," Orgeron said during media day at Xavier University ahead of Monday's College Football Playoff Championship.
"I couldn't even tell you who those two guys are to be honest with you. But I just know this, that it's going to be an emotional night when we do run out of the tunnel. I believe it's going to be a home-field advantage. But we have to take care of it."
Whether the movie theme truly matches reality, it's clear the Tigers from South Carolina are embracing their role in the story.
Star Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons said arriving in New Orleans felt like being in a different country -- Russia, for instance -- after the rest of his season felt like it took place in the United States.
"Nobody here is on our side. I think that's very obvious," he said. "It's like we're in a different country because, I mean, we're in their home state. Why would everybody not pull for them?"
And Simmons said he feeds on doubters and the added challenge, welcoming the atmosphere he'll face in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night.
"On defense we call it a 'road dog mentality,' " he said. "You've got to bring a completely different game to it -- not anything special necessarily, but just a different mindset."
Ed Orgeron is always ready to talk football, but the LSU coach's eyes light up when he gets the chance to share his most recent dinner menu.
Veteran Clemson safety Tanner Muse echoed that sentiment, one he said has been repeatedly instilled by his coach.
"You can't trust nobody around here. This is LSU territory. So we're just excited -- we're excited about it, really looking forward to it," he said. "I mean this week alone is going to be a journey. So just get through this week and prepare the best we can and just be the best version of us Monday night."
The underdog mentality is somewhat reflected in the betting line, which opened at -4.5 for LSU and has stretched to -5.5 two days before the game, according to The Action Network. It's the tightest line for LSU in more than a month. Orgeron's Tigers were favored by 7 points in the SEC Championship against Georgia and 13 in the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma, with LSU covering both easily.
But LSU's coach knows that edge only matters if his team takes advantage of it.
Before each game Joe Burrow does the same thing to get focused. Sometimes it means he even loses consciousness.
"As you know, [Clemson's] fans are going to be fired up. And we have a saying: Big plays fuel the emotion," Orgeron said. "They're going to be looking for some big plays. If they don't get the big plays, they'll have some emotion the other way. We don't want to see that."
Clemson and LSU kick off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 7 p.m. (CST) Monday (ESPN).
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