Some of you may know that I took off to the States last week after not having left the country for nearly two years. I wanted to get a dose of football, good food, and warm weather, and there’s no better place to get such a synergy than the South. Luckily I’ve got some great friends down here who are letting me couch surf as I make my way throughout SEC country, and it’s been a great time so far. I’m currently in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama, and I couldn’t have kicked off my trip any better than going to the Alabama/LSU game this past Saturday. Just an unreal day of tailgating and getting to see a great game between two elite schools that has one of the fiercest rivalries in college
In the South, football is a religion. And there’s no place where that rings more true than Alabama, whose college football program has been far and away the best in the country for the last decade plus. Bryant-Denny Stadium turns into a church on Saturday game days, where the service is led by maybe the best college coach ever in Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide, who are currently third in the College Football Playoff rankings. If you don’t follow college football, just know that Alabama’s football program is a WAGON. Six national titles since 2009 and the reigning champs. No big deal.
A Carey Price jersey in Tuscaloosa? Did me and this guy just become best friends? pic.twitter.com/IdDMkH7GNN
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) November 6, 2021
Saturday’s game was one that the Tide faithful had circled on their calendar for quite some time. Louisiana State University won the natty in 2019 and got there by defeating Bama in one of the biggest college football games of the past decade, and these two schools HATE each other. LSU hasn’t been as good this year but this game marked their first time back in Tuscaloosa since stomping on the heart of every home fan at Bryant-Denny two seasons ago and Bama fans were ready for some sweet revenge.
I wanted to be down here in time for this game not only because of the rivalry but also because I’m as big of an LSU as you’ll find from Canada. I spent a semester there the year the Tigers and Joey Burrow went undefeated and won the natty in ’19, and I hadn’t gotten to go to one of their games since the SEC championship in Atlanta that year. The only problem is that I have a brain and realized it wouldn’t bode well for me to wear purple and gold in Bama’s student section, so reluctantly I threw on a crimson polo so I could fit in.
I love tailgates. Roll Tigers. pic.twitter.com/vCp3FaDlh6
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) November 6, 2021
What makes college football way better than the NFL in my opinion are the tailgates. For a lot of people the game is secondary to the tailgate leading up to it, and they’re a huge deal. Come Saturday morning the part of campus known as The Quad was PACKED with tents, tables, and bbq’s, and it felt amazing to be back in the mix tossing footballs, having beverages, and playing games. My friend who’s a student at Bama and I teamed up to play some locals in a game of cornhole, and we gave them a good rinse. Two Canadians dicing up some Birmingham residents in cornhole is the equivalent to them hitting the ice and skating circles around us, but we didn’t rub it in too much. Not to their face at least.
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) November 7, 2021
Eventually it got to game time which meant heading across campus to get inside the stadium. On the walk over I saw Alabama superfan Nacho, a character that couldn’t embody the atmosphere any better. You’ve got sorority girls dressed to the nines, fans stumbling around in various alumni player jerseys, and you’ve got Nacho. Every sports team should have at least one person who fires up their fanbase the way he does.
The game itself was awesome. Bama were 29-point favourites, and I had braced myself for a blowout, but LSU hung around from start to finish. The Tigers pulled off a trick play in the first quarter that was so filthy I nearly started cheering only to remember I was in the wrong place to do that. The energy was on high the whole game, though there was a sense of panic from the home crowd when the Tide led by just one score heading to the end of the fourth quarter.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) November 7, 2021
In a game that had an over/under of 67 it sure was a battle of the defenses. Alabama had six rushing yards all night, tied for their lowest in school history. On the other side, LSU’s quarterback Max Johnson was painful to watch. Both defenses balled out and Bama fans can thank theirs for keeping LSU’s offense in check as the Tide rolled on to a 20-14 dubya. It felt like a best-case scenario for me who wanted the outmatched Tigers to make it a game while also hoping that the city wouldn’t burn down as a result of the huge upset.
Bryant-Denny was rocking Saturday night! pic.twitter.com/jiT3m1iIVG
— that SEC podcast (@thatSECpodcast) November 7, 2021
While the 60 minutes of play was great, it was the atmosphere in that stadium that made all the difference. Every fan there had a shaker, and I have a mild case of tendinitis from shaking that thing so damn much. I’ve been to a bunch of games at Tiger Stadium AKA Death Valley in Baton Rouge, but what Bama did better was have some incredible light shows. Those stadium lights were getting the crowd fired up, and then they got everyone to get their phone flashlights out for one of the coolest crowd scenes I’ve ever been a part of. Between that and the whole stadium swaying along to Dixieland Delight near the end of the game made for an absolutely electric environment. I felt justified chanting Roll Tide for a night.
Saturday’s game day was incredible and it made me realize how much I missed all this. No one does it like college football, especially in SEC country where these people eat, sleep, and breathe it. From the tailgate, to the pre-game Chick-fil-A muck, to the game itself and the ensuing festivities, it was unreal. Such a trip getting to be apart of this gung-ho atmosphere of over 100,000 students, alumni, and fans. If you’ve never been to a college football game I highly recommend it because I guarantee you’ll have a great time. Just don’t wear the opposing team’s colours unless you’re sitting in the visitors’ section, and even then good luck. If you’re a sports fan this is an atmosphere you’ve gotta experience at least once.