Amongst all that purple and yellow, there were some red and white patches at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. We here at Arkansasexpats have the good fortune of knowing a loyal Arkansas fan who along with his wife braved foreign territory and helped contribute to the much better color combination of red and white. In an effort to give you the "what was it like to be there" account of Razorback games when possible, here is my friend's account of the experience and his observations on a game that he assures me was worth the trip, despite the final outcome.
"Heartbreak . . . from the Upper Deck in Tiger Stadium"
When my friend Kevin (aka, KevinHog) found out that my wife and I were going to the game in Baton Rouge, he asked if I would write up a post about the game. After reading his amazing literary posts [exaggeration - KH] in the past, I was very hesitant . . . but hey . . . here it goes!
* My trip to Baton Rouge started back in May of this year when my wife surprised me and told me that she had bought tickets to the LSU game for our 10 year anniversary. Of course, at that time, Mallett hadn't taken a snap under center, so I really didn't know what to expect for this game. But as the season progressed, this game loomed larger and larger on the schedule. A special thanks to my lovely wife for the tickets. I think I'll keep her . . .
* As the days prior to the game approached, we started hearing horror stories about LSU fans throwing beer on visiting fans, pushing over port-o-potties with visiting fans inside, and of course the overly annoying "Tiger Bait!" chant. We were even advised not to wear our Razorback gear into the stadium. Of course, being the die-hard fans we are, we decided to take our chances and show our Razorback pride. Turns out we made the right call . . . unlike Petrino on 4th and 4 in OT.
* If you've never tried to park on the LSU campus on game day and find yourself headed down to the game in two years, all I can say is good luck! I knew where I wanted to go, but I couldn't get across the campus by car due to all the "permit parking only" access points. After much frustration and a lot of backtracking, we finally found a tattoo parlor with a guy charging $20 to park just north of campus. Best decision all night (as it was a straight shot to I-10 after the game) . . . unlike putting pressure on your shaky field goal kicker to win the game.
* Not having a clue where the stadium was from where we parked, we braved up and approached an LSU guy sitting on his bike on the corner of State and Highland Drive. Turns out that the guy was from Eudora, AR, and was more than helpful in getting us to the stadium. In fact, when we finally got away from Bicycle Bill (his affectionately dubbed nickname) fifteen minutes later, he had not only told us about how to get to the stadium, but also about meeting his wife at LSU, how she hated football, his game day rituals of cruising the campus on his bike and finally inviting us to listen to the LSU band in the Pete Marovich center prior to the game. As nice as he was (the complete opposite of what we were told to expect) and as spot on as were his directions to the stadium . . . we passed on the invite to hear the LSU band. I hope Bill will forgive us for this.
* Our walk to the stadium was fairly uneventful. We were instructed by Bicycle Bill to check out Mike the Tiger's million dollar home. It was very impressive; however, Mike was no where to be seen three hours before the game. I joked to my wife that Mike must have heard the Razorbacks were in town and was in hiding given our last two meetings. At this point, my confidence was riding high. . .
* We just happened to luck out and be around the south side of the stadium when the Razorback players arrivd. Along with my confidence, Mallett was looking overly confident as well as he exited the bus carrying a big sledge hammer on his shoulder, which was quickly dubbed by the fans as "The Mallett." We got a cool picture of this, but given the outcome of the game, it isn't quite as cool as it would have been had we won. Needless to say, it was more impressive than "The Wood."
* Our seats were three rows from the top on the 5 yard line. Let me repeat . . three rows from the top. They were great seats as far as the view was concerned. We could see everything. But did I mention that they were three rows from the top? Makes me glad we decided to get our drinks, dogs and nachos when we got there. By half-time though, we were regretting the drinks, dogs, and nachos. . . particularly the drinks. And to make matters worse, the water man kept coming by tormenting us with his delicious bottles of water . . . I told my wife that I wondere when the toilet man would be making his way by. To our disappointment, the toilet man never showed up.
* Prior to kickoff, several medical guys showed up with a stretcher a few sections over from us. Shortly thereafter, we saw them carrying off an eldery woman strapped to the stretcher. The guy behind us apparently had connections in that section as it wasn't long before he shared with us that an overweight, drunken, Arkansas fan had lost his balance and fallen on the elderly Arkansas woman. And . . . it had taken nearly ten seconds before they could get him off of her! And here I was expecting to see hostilities between the LSU and Arkansas fans. It's a shame when we take out one of our own! Makes me wonder if she was one of Mallett's relatives as he seemd to play the entire game as if he'd just gotten some bad news. I know I'd have a hard time concentrating if my grandmother had gotten crushed by a drunken fat man . . . I hope she is okay.
* I do have to give props to the water man. He was the highlight of the first half for us besides a couple of false-security Tejada field goals. Let's just say he had personality plus which resulted in our section chanting "H 2 O! H 2 O!" each time he appeared. He promised to return in the third quarter to sing Sinatra's "I did it my way," but alas, it appears that "his way" meant not coming back to our section in the secon half. Maybe he was busy searching for the toilet man.
* There were mixed thoughts on LSU's new uniforms. The LSU fan next to me said the helmets looked too much like Notre Dame's. The fan behind me said he loved them. I'll be interested to see the Razorbacks' new Nike uniforms for 2010.
* Interception on the first drive! We saw this last week. No need to worry, right? Didn't take long for us to realize just how off Mallett was in the first half. One fan commented that they needed to put some weight on the ball to keep it down. Apparently they found a heavier ball for the second half.
* I had the pleasure of attending the game in Little Rock last year and saw the come from behid victory. 17-6 at the half was disappointing, but I had seen this before. And while my confidence was shaken, I knew we had a second half to play. I have to admit that at one point my mind wondered "Where is Casey Dick when you need him?"
* What a comeback! Suddenly this mundane game had turned into a battle. One LSU fan commented that he wasn't surprised. When was the last time this game had been a blowout? Makes you wonder if CBS was kicking itself for giving up on airng the game at its normal Friday timeslot? Happy Thanksgiving, ESPN!
* Well, Holliday managed to run one more back o us prior to graduating. We finally wised up and kicked away from him. I am a little disappointe in Petrino, though. Didn't he know who Holliday was? Why punt to him the first time? Not having that run back for a TD could have been a difference in the game.
* Props to Joe Adams. This guy is a player! To come back after that hit is absoluely unbelievable. And to make that touchdown to go ahead! Unbelievable! We love us some Joe Adams!
* Too much time left on the clock! Too much time! All of the fans in my section knew it! Did Petrino and crew not realize it? And where was Les Miles' poor clock management in this game? "Clock it! Clock it!" we adamantly yelled.
* And just like that, overtime. Funny note, prior to the start of overtime one of the LSU players appeared on the jumbotron (can't remember his name) to get the fans pumped up. "It's overtime! Let's make some noise and blow the roof off of this place, baby!" Several of us Arkansas fans looked up into the clear night sky wondering if LSU realized that this place actually had no roof. Maybe they blew the roof off two years ago and forgot it was gone? Strangely enough, the LSU fans didn't seem to find this odd.
* Kudos to the defense for holding LSU to a field goal in overtime. Maybe it was a bad decision on Petrino's part to give LSU the ball first? Conventional practice is to see what your opponent does so you know what you have to do. In hindsight, putting pressure on your offense, particularly your field goal kicker wasn't such a great idea.
* Well . . . You know the rest . . . we actually thought Tejada's kick was good from where we stood and were preppig for the second overtime until we saw the LSU players rush the field. And then it happened . . . Heartbreak.
* On a positive note, based on his performance last night, I don't think we have to worry about Mallett turning pro next year. On a downside, Tejada won't be turning pro next year either.
All in all, it's been a great and exciting season. Mallett is the real deal. We have amazing receivers, and 7-5 and a bowl game is a great season compared to last year. Next year looks to be much better.
However, this still didn't make the drive back to West Monroe and the loss any easier to swallow. It wasn't until we came across a head on collision in which someone obviousy got seriously injured that put the loss into perspective. It sucks to lose, but at least we had the opportunity to play. We should be thankful for our family and friends, thankful for our health, thankful for the freedom we have in this great country to watch great football, and thankful to be Arkansas Razorback fans! You choose the order.
Now bring on the Liberty Bowl (or maybe Cotton???) and let's ring in the New Year with a Razorback bowl victory! Woo Pig Sooieeee!
P.S. Thanks to KevinHog and the Expats for the opportunity to post. You guys are awesome!