Tennessee-LSU: A Tennessee Fan's Guide to Maintaining Your Sanity on Game Day
We all know it's going to be bad.
Not only is LSU the No. 1 team in the nation, but Tennessee is wrecked by injury. Justin Hunter is out for the season, Tyler Bray is out for four to six weeks and even Tauren Poole is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
I have front row seats to this bloodbath, and as a Tennessee fan, that makes me think that watching the game will be hard to enjoy. On the other hand, I have front row seats to a Tennessee game against an SEC opponent, so I need to figure out a way to have fun.
But how does one enjoy a game when you know that your team will be slaughtered?
After a lot of thought, I've come up with five things to do to prevent LSU from ruining my game day experience, and I'm here to recommend these precautionary measures to you. Here they are.
1. Tailgate, Tailgate, Tailgate!
I could say "Drink, Drink, Drink," but it's not just about numbing the pain with one too many beers; it's about atmosphere.
If you go out to a tailgate, despite what happens on the field, you'll be surrounded by other Tennessee fans wearing orange and trying to have a good time. That kind of camaraderie will lighten the mood for even the most negative fan.
Also, who doesn't love spending a nice autumn day outside eating hot dogs and burgers and sipping a few cold ones with friends? After all, until kickoff, it's just another Saturday that you can spend just relaxing and having fun.
Also, a belly full of wings and beer will make stomaching a tough loss a lot easier (although it will probably catch up to you later).
2. Look for the Positives
LSU is a phenomenal team; they're No. 1 in the country for a reason.
What does that mean for Tennessee? It means any positive play—a breakaway run, a big catch, a defensive stop—is reason to celebrate.
In the loss to Georgia, Tennessee's defense looked better. Not great, but better. See if they improve further against LSU. Herman Lathers ought to finally be back, so watch to see how he does.
Watch the offensive line to see who has improved their run blocking. If Dallas Thomas is dominating the LSU defender he's matched up against, watch that part of the game.
No one expects Tennessee to win. Not many people expect Tennessee to even score. So when Tennessee does eventually get points on the board, look at it this way: Tennessee just put up points on the best team in the country.
With that mentality, even if you lose, you win.
3. Enjoy the Game
Everyone here likes watching football, or else you wouldn't be on this website (much less reading this article).
Keep in mind that, no matter the outcome, you will still be watching a football game. Try to enjoy it objectively as just a football game and not a football game that your team is getting killed in.
After all, I watched Monday night football this week, even though I'm not a fan of either the Lions or the Bears. I like a few players on the teams, but I wasn't watching to see if Stephen Tulloch and Kyle Vanden Bosch laid out some people; I was watching because I just like to watch football.
When you're watching the Tennessee-LSU game, keep that in mind. On the one hand, you're watching your team lose, but on the other, you're still watching college football.
4. Go with a Group
Misery loves company, doesn't it?
If you're attending the game, go with your friends. Sit with people you know, or, if you don't know those that you're sitting next to, get to know them. You will be sitting next to them for three hours anyway; you might as well make friends.
If you're watching the game at home, watch it with other Tennessee fans and don't invite your friends from Louisiana. They'll be fine missing one party.
Just like tailgating, if you surround yourself with people who are going through the same pain and suffering that you are when Tennessee is down, it'll be easier for you to deal with.
There's also the fact that if you're all watching different parts of the team looking for positives, you're more likely to find the good things Tennessee's doing. The more people looking for positives, the more positives you'll see and the more positive you'll be.
5. Last Resort: Trash Talk
Now I don't normally condone talking trash to other fans...unless of course, they start it first (don't they always?).
But seriously, as long as you keep it classy (i.e. nothing about anyone else's mother), there's nothing wrong with a little smack talk. A little.
Which quarterback was it that got arrested for assault? Was that Tyler Bray (or Matt Simms)? Oh wait, no; that was Jordan Jefferson. Classy players, LSU.
As long as no one gets too worked up, it's OK to give some grief that one guy you know who roots for LSU (you know the guy). Or that guy that's sitting next to you yelling "Tigerbait!" every play.
That said, and I can't stress this enough, don't try to ruin someone else's game day experience. The LSU fans are our guests and should be treated with (some) respect.
Ruining someone else's day won't make yours any better. After all, we'll want the same from the LSU fans the next time we play in Death Valley.
Conclusion: It Is Still Just a Game
I'll admit, this one is tough for me to remember sometimes too.
Tennessee follows up the LSU game with Alabama and South Carolina, so unless there's a miracle, it's gonna be a long three weeks.
But either way, it's just football. Tennessee losing to LSU doesn't make Tennessee any lesser a program, it doesn't take away our BCS National Championship, it doesn't take away Tennessee's great tradition and it doesn't make anyone who attends the school better or worse than they were before.
It's a football game. Do your best to relax and enjoy it. Things will get better for Tennessee. They always do.