At the beginning of November, there still wasn't much of a feeling for exactly what kind of team LSU had yet. Yeah, there had been the great upset over Tennessee, and a wild overtime win over Mississippi State (sadly I cannot find highlights on this one) but there was an all-too-familiar 41-9 drubbing at the hands of eventual SEC Champs Florida, and thanks partially to Rohan Davey's persistent high-ankle sprain, the quarterback situation remained unsettled.
Of course, over in Tuscaloosa Mike Dubose was in the midst of destroying every piece of goodwill the '99 SEC title had earned, as his preseason top-five Alabama team was limping along at 3-5 -- losses to Southern Miss and Central Florida included. Still, LSU hadn't beaten the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge since 1969.
- The 31-year streak was one of the weirder things about this rivalry. Granted it lasted through Alabama's best decade under Bear Bryant and LSU's wasteland years of the late 80s-early 90s, but the Tigers managed to even win four in a row at one point in Alabama from 1982-88 (the game was then played at Birmingham's Legion Field). But zero success at home until this 30-28 win.
- Back in the student section, after spending most of the day over in the R.V. lot with my family and some friends. This year was kind of a transition year for our tailgate, as we began to think our old home in the Howe-Russell parking lot was getting a bit crowded. We eventually found a new spot outside of the Student Union, which we've held ever since. Although it looks like that may be sacrificed to the new parking rules on campus.
The Game Itself:
- I've always loved the CBS College Football Theme. Just wanted to put that out there. I kind of wish they'd use it more often.
- I used to wonder why LSU didn't call the ol' pump-&-go at least five times a game. Josh Booty didn't do many things well, but with his quick release (and his tendency to telegraph throws), it always felt like that was a throw he could hit consistently, especially to Josh Reed, who was blossoming into a true star by this point.
- To bring things back to the present for a moment, I swear I see so much of Domanick Davis' game in Terrance Magee. It wouldn't shock me at all if he gets some playing time this season.
- An aside for any Bama fans reading this -- what the heck happened to Freddie Millons? In '99 he looked to be on the verge of becoming one of the nation's best playmaking receivers, with more than 900 total yards and some huge postseason performances. From that point on he was pretty much just another guy. I always assumed there was some sort of injury but I don't remember him missing any significant time either. Just kind of fell off the map.
- When Ahmad Galloway broke that 55-yarder, it was a classic "not again" moment. After the craziness of the '98 game, I was pretty much prepared for anything to happen. And it did. A few minutes later, two of my fellow students stormed the field and managed to evade security just long enough to offer the Crimson Tide bench a full moon.
- But the weirdest was still to come. With just over 7 minutes left and LSU up 23-21 we saw the dawn of instant replay in the SEC. Davis muffed a punt, and despite Erin Damond clearly jumping on the ball in full view of the crowd and pulling it out of the massive scrum that ensued, the officials seemed to have no idea what just happened. As the referees huddled up to figure out what was going on, one was clearly signaling an Alabama recovery, but as all parties involved were pleading their cases, the head referee Steve Landis (who, coincidentally, is now a conference replay official) appeared to sneak a glance up at the score board video monitor, which was replaying the muff and recovery. LSU kept the ball, and went on to score the decisive touchdown. It's still one of the funniest things I've ever seen a referee do in a game, and the conference has since passed a rule on home scoreboard operators running "any replay that might embarrass the officials." Because yeah, it was all the scoreboard operator's fault.
- Remember bootleg passes to tight ends off of play-action? I hope Steve Kragthorpe does.
- As great as it was to end that home losing streak, I couldn't help but laugh a little at my fellow students rushing the field after this one. Yeah, it was a big win and I couldn't have been more excited, but this was a bad Crimson Tide team that wouldn't win another game all season. But we were all that hungry to just be excited about football, and we had that back.