This Saturday you may see a very lively atmosphere in Tuscaloosa, AL. Each year about this time, fans from the Bayou meet their counterparts in the Dixie for a household clash of rivalries. The game on the field is just as interesting as the tailgating scene before it. A sea of crimson is blended with Po Boys, gumbo, jumbalaya, "Roll Tide" chants and "Geaux Tiger" yells that accent the Creole nature of many native Louisianans. The rivalry is fairly friendly, with fans of both teams more cordial than meetings with Auburn fans or Georgia fans. Both fans have a mutual respect for one another that make the game classy and one of the greater rivalries in college football.
If you see a girl wearing a LSU hat with a Crimson Tide jersey on Saturday don't be alarmed. Don't check her into Bryce Hospital. She is sane, not sick and not begging for attention. She is a student at the University of Alabama. Her name is Anne Elizabeth Davis is one of the many students at the University of Alabama stuck between her state school and the school she grew up loving and cheering for and the school she chose to attend for higher education. Anne Elizabeth grew up in Louisiana a die hard LSU fan, but became a Crimson Tide fan soon after she was accepted into the university. Davis vividly remembers 1999 when LSU hired Coach Nick Saban came in from Michigan State to replace Coach Gerry DiNardo. She remembers the 2003 Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma and celebrating a BCS National Championship with her family a mere two years ago when LSU beat up on Ohio State. Davis has grown to love the Tide but admits that her heart will always be covered in purple and gold.
"Although Alabama is my school, LSU will always be my team," said Davis. "Growing up watching games in Tiger Stadium my whole life, I don’t think I could ever change. Once a tigers fan, always a tigers fan".
Davis has managed to blend in amongst the Tide Nation almost seamlessly. She is not berated with hate mail or seen as a traitor amongst the LSU nation. She is able to remain on both sides of the fence and be a fan of each team in an epic rivalry. Davis, a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in Public Relations and General Business Administration, has a different approach to Saban Bowl III. Having had Coach Saban as both a LSU fan and as a Crimson Tide fan she notices the two different perceptions of the coach.
"My friends are not too fond of Nick Saban, especially after leaving for the NFL and returning, only to coach what is now one of their biggest rivals,"said Davis. "In my opinion, it just fuels the rivalry even more".
It is a rivalry indeed. The series finds the Tide ahead, 44-23-5,since the two teams started playing eachother in 1902. Last season's game was a thriller, coming down to a slim 27-21 Crimson Tide victory that required an overtime finish. The game is eerily similar to last year's matchup with Florida already clinching the SEC East as they did last season, awaiting to see who their opponent from the SEC West will be. The Tide win they are in. The Tide lose, and they have to hope for a number of unlikely events to happen that would put them in the SEC Championship game. LSU comes off a 42-0 lashing of in-state opponent Tulane, and Alabama escaped their last matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers with a timely field goal block by Terrance "Mount" Cody that has taken on as the infamous "Rocky Block" game, and are well rested after a bye week.
"Honestly this weekend is a win-win situation for me," said Davis. "If LSU wins, I will be excited, but if Alabama wins, I will be excited and look forward to advancing hopefully to the SEC championship."
Anne Elizabeth Davis is one of many LSU fans that will be peppered into the student section at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon and as long as the rivalry continues will be a fan that becomes more numerous year in and year out.