College football full tilt

Today is the first full day of the 2014 college football season. There will be games morning, noon and night–literally today, since Penn State and Central Florida kick off at 7:30 a.m. Central in Dublin.

LSU plays tonight at 8 p.m. against Wisconsin in Houston’s NRG Stadium, the retractable roof facility which is also home to the NFL’s Houston Texans. LSU has played several neutral site games in recent years, including games at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington vs. TCU last year and Oregon in 2011. The Bayou Bengals also played North Carolina in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome in 2010.

LSU and Wisconsin have not played since a home-and-home in 1971 and 1972. The first of those games featured an all-white LSU team going into Madison, which was a hotbed of student activism during the Vietnam War, which was winding down in 1971 but still ongoing. Wisconsin schools had never been segregated, and to have an all-white team from the Deep South come into Madison and play at Camp Randall Stadium was disconcerting to many. The Bayou Bengals were greeted quite rudely upon their arrival in Madison and then taunted and insulted throughout the game. LSU shut up the hippies by winning 38-28.

The next year when the Badgers came to Baton Rouge, LSU had its first black varsity player, Carl Otis Trimble. Wisconsin was swallowed whole in the cauldron that is night football in Death Valley, losing 35-7.

LSU was also treated rudely, although nowhere near as bad, when it played at Notre Dame in 1970. The next year when the Irish came to Baton Rouge, some of Notre Dame’s black players claimed LSU fans and players kept using the N-word. A couple of Irish players also said Mike the Tiger’s handlers used a cattle prod to elicit roars. The second part is definitely false, because there’s no way the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine would abuse Mike.

Games between the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten in the early 1970s were nearly unheard of. Until 1975, it was the Rose Bowl or nothing at all for Big Ten schools and bowls. And SEC schools were loath to take all-white teams into hostile territory. LSU showed it wasn’t afraid with the trips to Madison and South Bend.

Alabama also played a huge two-year non-conference series in that era, facing Southern California of what was then the Pacific-8 in 1970 and 1971. The 1970 game in Birmingham, won by USC 42-21, marked the first time the Crimson Tide hosted a team with black players. It has been said to be the catalyst

The other big matchup involving ranked teams kicks at 4:30 when Clemson visits Georgia. The Tigers and Bulldogs used to play every year, but conference expansion in both the ACC and SEC made that series impossible. Clemson and Georgia still have yearly rivalries with non-conference foes South Carolina and Georgia Tech.

Top-ranked and defending national champion Florida State plays Oklahoma State in Arlington. In most years, this is a great game, but the Cowboys are too young and don’t have the speed to match Jameis Winston and the Seminoles.

As for schools in the area, MIssouri hosts South Dakota State, Jack Krier’s alma mater, at 2:30, and Kansas State hosts cupcake Stephen F. Austin at 6.

I am trying to get out of here and get back to Buffalo Wild Wings. The fantasy draft is Monday.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on August 30, 2014, in College Football, LSU Fighting TIgers and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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