It's not the most glamorous matchup in the world, but it is the bowl that LSU deserved. Let's face it, that's all we really want: to get the rewards we actually earned. It's a pretty low bar, but LSU fans need to be happy about simply not getting screwed over, as it looked like we were going to early on Sunday.
One of the central tenants of Delusional Optimism is not having anything handed to us. Everything LSU gets, we have to earn, sometimes twice. Other programs get born on third base and brag about hitting a triple, but that's just not the way it's ever been or is going to be for the Bayou Bengals. Things come hard, and we need to celebrate when we simply don't get screwed over by SEC politics.
It looks like UGa is lying on the grenade this year, and they are none too happy about it. I don't blame them, but welcome to our world, fellas. It's just another bit of the karmic link between our two programs, though I think Dawg fans would've been okay to skip that part of the program. Hey, consider it a makeup for last year, when the SEC helped y'all out. We're still waiting for that time the bowl karma comes around. Should be any decade now.
Last year, we got absolutely screwed by the bowl selection, and LSU fans reacted by staying away in droves. We're a fanbase that usually travels like the Mongol Horde, but we finally said enough is enough with last year's bowl selections. The team, in a heart-warming show of solidarity, then also decided to not bother to show up for the bowl game. We appreciate it, fellas. All for one, one for all, and all that.
But that was last year. The Outback Bowl is the bowl game that LSU earned, so we need to fire up the RV's and take over Tampa. Besides, the Cotton-Outback East-West swap is a pretty decent idea, and mixes things up for everybody.
The Outback has only had one SEC West team in the past fifteen years, Auburn in 2009, and let's be honest, Auburn is practically an Eastern team anyway. South Carolina has been in two of the last five Outback Bowls, so a change of scenery is probably called for. They then leapfrogged up to the Cap One and the Cotton gets a Western team in Eastern clothing in Mizzou.
Okay, Outback officials used the swap idea as an excuse to try and crew us and squeeze Texas A&M in there instead, but we managed to nip that ridiculousness in the bud. After an admitted freak out on twitter, I'm okay now. All's well that ends well, except for Georgia.
Now we turn our attention to an opponent we barely know in a venue we have rarely been to. The last time we went to the Outback Bowl, it was still called the Hall of Fame Bowl, and we played Syracuse. Yes, a New Year's Day Bowl so old that Syracuse was good enough to make it... as an independent. The less said about that game the better, as it gives us time to obsess over our one and only meeting with Iowa, the 2005 Citrus Bowl.
There's not an LSU fan alive who doesn't have that game seared in their memory, as it proves Coughlin's Law: All things end badly, or else they wouldn't end. I don't want to say Nick Saban's last game as LSU's head coach was a disaster, it did come down to the final seconds, but Saban taking potshots at Jesse Daniels for blowing coverage on his way out the door to the NFL was one of those things that left a sour taste in my mouth. That wasn't a teaching moment, it was blame-shifting.
This isn't really a chance at redemption. That game was an eternity ago in college football terms, and it's not like I go to sleep and shake my fists at the sky, bemoaning the outcome of one game against Iowa. Hell, all in all, I rather like the Hawkeyes.
What's not to like? Unique mascot, some cool trophies, good fanbase, great SB Nation blog, a coach that apparently can never be fired, and lots of corn. They are perhaps the most Big Ten of all of the Big Ten teams. Without looking up their numbers, you already know how they play: solid running game, defense built on hitting, and a game-manager QB asked not to screw it up.
It will be nice to play a game against a team with fans we don't hate in a venue that truly is a neutral site. It really will be an exhibition game, as it's hard to get the blood boiling for this one, which is a good thing. We need a football game that's just a football game. Win or lose, let's just have a good time. Show up en masse, restore our rep for travelling, and show those Midwesterners how to cook, drink, and party.
If she says we partied, then I'm pretty sure we partied. I really don't remember. I remember we departed from our bodies. We woke up in Ybor City...
Killer parties almost killed me.