LSU has won a lot of big games in its second home in New Orleans. Can it win another?
Baton Rouge and New Orleans are separated by fewer than 100 miles.
But the cities are more like distant cousins than close siblings.
Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s capital city and home to the state’s largest public university – LSU.
New Orleans is different – from Baton Rouge, from any other city in Louisiana, from just about any other place anywhere.
But the cities do have some stuff in common. They both host a Mardi Gras celebration – to varying degrees – and they both love the outdoors, spicy food and partying.
One other thing they have in common is they both love football. A lot.
There are a lot of New Orleans Saints fans in Baton Rouge.
But more than that, there are a lot of LSU fans in New Orleans – a whole lot.
The Tigers have been playing football since 1893; the Saints have been playing since 1967.
LSU has countless alumni in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The Crescent City is a second home for Tigers football – almost like Home 1A. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is as different from Tiger Stadium as New Orleans is from Baton Rouge.
But the Superdome is home not-too-far-away-from-home for LSU.
The Tigers love playing in New Orleans. And New Orleans loves having them come to town.
New Orleans… pic.twitter.com/fq88pLa1a9
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) January 7, 2020
LSU has played for the national championship just 4 times in the last 60 years. All 4 – including the Jan. 13 CFP Championship Game against Clemson – have been played in the Superdome.
Perhaps the opportunity to play for a title in their own backyard brings out the best in the Tigers. Or maybe it’s sheer coincidence. It’s probably a little bit of both, though mostly the latter.
Nonetheless, LSU football and New Orleans are a fearsome pairing.
The Tigers beat Oklahoma 21-14 in the Superdome to win the BCS Championship after the 2003 season and 4 years later they beat Ohio State 38-24 in the Superdome to win another BCS Championship.
Now, nothing’s perfect as evidenced by the fact that No. 1 LSU was bullied by No. 2 Alabama 21-0 in the Superdome in the BCS title game after the 2011 season.
But here we are 8 years later and the CFP Championship Game is in the Superdome and it’s No. 1 LSU favored to beat No. 3 Clemson.
Nowadays the Tigers only seem to show up in the New Orleans when there’s a national championship stake, but LSU has a long history of playing – and winning – football games in New Orleans.
LSU has played in the Sugar Bowl 14 times, second only to Alabama for most appearances by a school.
The Tigers lost the first 4 times that they played in the Sugar Bowl – including the first 3 Sugar Bowls – but have gone 6-3. The championship games against Ohio State and Alabama technically weren’t Sugar Bowls.
Amid the frequent championship appearances in recent years were decisive Sugar Bowl victories over Illinois 2 years before the title game against Oklahoma and over Notre Dame a year before the title game against Ohio State.
LSU used to visit New Orleans even more frequently than it has during its recent postseason run because Tulane historically has been one of the Tigers’ most frequent opponents.
Tulane and LSU have met 98 times since 1893. Only Mississippi State and Ole Miss have faced LSU more often, though the Tigers and the Green Wave haven’t faced each other since a 4-year revival of the series ended in 2009.
LSU’s record against Tulane in New Orleans is 31-12-6.
By the way, LSU coach Ed Orgeron has coached just 1 game in the Superdome as the Tigers’ head coach, though he was a Saints assistant for the 2008 season.
Orgeron was preparing to make his debut as LSU’s full-time head coach after the interim tag was removed at the end of the 2016 regular season.
The 2017 opener against BYU was scheduled to be played in Houston, but flooding from Hurricane Harvey forced officials to move the game elsewhere.
A handful of cities offered to host the game, and a series of logistical reasons led to the game being played in the Superdome.
The Superdome has happy to help.
LSU was happy. New Orleans was happy.
The Tigers rolled, 27-0.