Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Home-Field Advantage New Orleans Always Has a Soft Spot in Its Heart for University in Baton Rouge

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Home-Field Advantage New Orleans Always Has a Soft Spot in Its Heart for University in Baton Rouge

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS -- No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama had just gotten into town, and already it felt a little like a home game for the Tigers.

"If we can't play this game in Tiger Stadium, the only place we'd rather play it is here," LSU offensive guard Will Blackwell said.

The Southeastern Conference rivals both arrived Wednesday in New Orleans to prepare for the first BCS title game ever to feature teams from the same league.

For Alabama, it was a short flight, and a brass band greeted the Crimson Tide (11-1) as they got off the plane, while somebody shouted "Roll Tide!" as coach Nick Saban talked to reporters.

That was low key, though, compared to the band plus 100-or-so revved up fans and the big stuffed tiger that met LSU at a downtown hotel, sticking around even though they had to wait an extra 40 minutes because one of the team buses developed a problem on the way down from Baton Rouge and couldn't break 60 mph.

"The attachment to this city is one this team really feels," LSU coach Les Miles said. "You think [a greeting like this] is going to subside but this is going to continue for the week."

He wasn't worried about it all going to his players' heads. After all, LSU (13-0) has already won the SEC championship and beaten Alabama on its home field.

"I think they know how to remove distractions," Miles said.

A trip to New Orleans was Alabama's goal all season, too.

"This is a special place, it's a special city, it's a special opportunity for our team to play against an outstanding LSU team," Saban said.

"In the spirit of competition, this is about as good as it gets."

The regular-season meeting between the SEC West rivals was in Tuscaloosa, Ala., a bare-knuckled brawl of a game the Tigers won, 9- 6, in overtime.

"The big thing that we've tried to focus on in terms of what we learned in that game is the technical aspects of things that we could have done better, maybe from a schematic standpoint, maybe from an execution standpoint," Saban said. …

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