102,321 fans erupted with excitement. LSU had recovered a fumble on the seven yard line with 1:14 left in a game tied at 10.
The atmosphere was euphoric. For the first time in three years, it looked as if LSU was going to defeat Alabama. Sitting next to my dad in Tiger Stadium, I was excited to share what would have been a vintage father-son moment when the Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown as the clock expired.
Within seconds, everything vanished.
LSU’s offense shifted into reverse after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Tigers settled for a field goal. Alabama drove down the field to tie the game, and defeated LSU in overtime.
As I drearily followed my dad out of the stadium, I promised myself on that Nov. 8, 2014 night that I would never allow myself to be optimistic about LSU football again.
I had a good run of pessimism, but on the week leading up to Nov. 3, 2018, I broke my promise. I allowed myself to enjoy the buildup of the game, and I once again found myself gravitating toward the purple and gold hype. The anticipation grew with each passing day, and by the end of the week I was sure to let everyone who asked me know that No. 3 LSU would upset No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night.
Gee, was I wrong.
Not that any of this needs to be rehashed, but Alabama steamrolled LSU 29-0 in Tiger Stadium for their largest margin of victory in the last eight meetings.
Logically, one would assume that the game would be the final nail in the coffin, and that, based on my previous experience with LSU football, I would turn my back on the Tigers for good.
To borrow a phrase from college football commentator Lee Corso — not so fast.
As I sat in the student section minutes before kickoff, I experienced a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time. I realized how much fun it was believing that LSU could beat anyone the Tigers played. The previous week’s classes weren’t such a bore with the big game to look forward to, and I appreciated how special it was to be a first-hand witness to one of the most highly-anticipated home games in school history.
I haven’t detached myself from reality though. Any happiness that existed in the anticipation of the game quickly dissipated when the ball was kicked off. I’m disappointed that LSU didn’t win, I’m disappointed that LSU hasn’t scored at home against Alabama since 2014, and I’m disappointed that I will graduate from LSU without seeing the Tigers defeat the Tide in my college career.
Those realities are awful, and thinking about them could make the most positive LSU fan "morose."
However, I had so much fun being optimistic, and I’d be crazy to go back to the miserable alternative.
So many people thought LSU was destined for a terrible season that would end in some toilet bowl game in the middle of nowhere. That has been far from the case, and if the Tigers regroup, there’s no doubt in my mind that this team will win the rest of the games on their schedule.
It’s a waste of time dwelling on LSU’s loss to an untouchable Alabama team, and it’s clear to me that the Tide have the already won 2018 National Championship. It was called the Crimson and White game and it happened in the spring.
I plan on spending the rest of my senior year supporting the team and being excited about LSU’s chances to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. I understand that some will choose to let the success of Alabama and its boastful fans control their dispositions.
Regardless of which category you fall into though, it’s important to remember that life’s too short to be miserable about sports, and the Tigers have enjoyed too much success this year to have fans turn their backs.