Halloween. If there is one day on the calendar that speaks to LSU fans, it is Halloween. It's not just that our fans, more than just about any other fanbase, loves playing dress up. We've had Batman, the Pimp Nation, Snow White, Spider-Man, the Joker, and just about any other costume you can think of in our game day crowds. And that's not even for Halloween. That's just in Ordinary Time.
Halloween suits us. There's a little bit of terror and menace built in to the holiday, but really, it's an excuse for everyone to dress goofy and throw a big party. We're big fans of parties around these parts. And this Halloween, the scariest monster in all of football shows up on campus: Alabama's football team.
Let's not delude ourselves,* Alabama is really honkin' good. Alabama ranks 11th in scoring offense and 1st in scoring defense. If you're one of those people who believes yards are more important than points for some odd reason, Bama ranks 1st in total defense but a mere 41st in total offense. Of course, Alabama tends to put their offense up on blocks once they are up by 30 points or so.
*See what I did there? Cute, huh?
AJ McCarron is having a sneaky Heisman caliber season. He may not throw the ball enough to win the award, but a big game against a big rival might be enough to launch a candidacy in a wide open field. He ranks 4th in yards/attempt with a staggering 18/0 TD/INT ratio.* McCarron needs this game to enter in that particular national conversation. He's been efficient and he's literally not made any mistakes.
*ATVSQBPI column tomorrow. SPOILER: he's still good.
But Halloween night is when the ghosts of Tiger Stadium come to life. OK, the game's not being played on Halloween, but it's Halloween week, and we've never been real sticklers for the rules around these parts.
Of course, LSU's Halloween tradition begins and ends with Billy Cannon's punt return in 1959, which is the greatest horror movie ever made, particularly if you're an Ole Miss fan. LSU beat Ole Miss on Halloween in Baton Rouge in 1961 and 1964 as well, just to keep the tradition alive. But our spookiest Halloween week win was in 1972, in a game that can still send a middle aged Ole Miss fan sputtering in fits of rage. Bert Jones got off two pass plays in four seconds (that's how you manage a clock, Les) to score a touchdown as time expired. Go ahead, ask your parents how "One Second Blues" goes.
Halloween would then lose some of its mojo, mainly because Ole Miss lost theirs. Until 1994, LSU played Ole Miss every Halloween or as close to it as they could come. From 1970 until 1994,LSU would lose to Ole Miss only two times in Tiger Stadium. The light seemed to go out on our Halloween tradition, but it was just waiting to rise from the dead, just like any good horror movie character.
And when would LSU's Halloween tradition be reborn? November 4, 2000 against Alabama. Going into that game, LSU had not beaten Alabama in Tiger Stadium since 1969 (though LSU had fared pretty well in Alabama, going 6-3 in the last nine visits). But for some reason, LSU could just never beat Alabama in our own house. Usually, something bizarre would happen to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, which made the 2000 game all the more special. It was just spectacularly weird. It also was the unofficial debut of instant replay in college football, as officials seemed to forget who recovered a fumble and were about to give the ball to Bama before peeking at the big screen showing the LSU recovery.
Hey, it's Halloween. Weird things happen. But here's the thing, LSU did not play another home game against an SEC team on Halloween week except for Vanderbilt in 2004 until 2010, when Alabama came calling again. It's like the SEC knew to not give LSU a home Halloween game because strange things just happen.
And here we are. Halloween week. At night. Against Alabama. Once again, LSU is playing an unbeatable team. Just like 1959, 1972, and 2010. This isn't just our home field or our preferred time. This our holiday. This is Halloween. And yeah, the big scary monster will get in his frights, but the movie always ends the same way for the monster.
Let's kill the beast and take home the homecoming queen. Just like in the movies, the monster only has power if you are afraid of it.