LSU vs. Alabama: Is Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge the Better College Town?
This Saturday's game matching up LSU against Alabama will be covered by CBS in the prime-time slot. In a rare move by a TV network, to make the agreement work, CBS agreed to make next season's game in Baton Rouge a prime-time event as well.
Back-to-back night games in this series will mean full days of tailgating and pregame traditions both in Tuscaloosa this season and in Baton Rouge next year.
That begs the question: With a full game-day to spend, which location is the best college atmosphere?
I will breakdown and judge each location in five key game-day categories: tailgating, food and libations, game day traditions, the campus, and the fans.
In Tuscaloosa, the hottest tailgating spot is the Quad. There will be thousands of fans with tents, chairs, flags and games littered throughout the area. You will see satellite television, life-sized blow-up Big Al mascots, and lots and lots of crimson, white and houndstooth. The rest of the campus will be filled with tailgates, too, and the RV lots will be filled to capacity. There is no shortage of fun, or people, in T-town on game days.
In Baton Rouge they take their tailgating seriously. The set-ups are large and plentiful and the parties are non-stop from early in the morning to late at night, before and after the game.
Tents with purple and gold and a sea of RVs dot the campus on Saturdays in the fall. You will people in costumes, painted vehicles and with all kinds of unique Cajun flair.
For tailgating, we will call it a tie, as both schools know how to set up a tailgate and how to party.
Food and libations
In Tuscaloosa, BBQ is the main odor that you smell, other than the bourbon-and-Cokes, as you pass through the tailgates. Huge grills and smokers are seemingly everywhere, and the sides are Southern and delightful.
Tide fans are known to have some cocktails and brews to get ready for the big game, but the LSU fans seem to make it an Olympic sport.
In addition to the plentiful adult beverages in Baton Rouge, they are known for some of the very best tailgating food in the nation. Many of them will share their delicious Cajun treats, such as gumbo, really-hot wings, fried fish and jambalaya.
The edge goes to LSU in this category; they can eat and drink with the best of them.
A trip to Alabama for a game isn't complete unless you visit the Bear Bryant football museum. It is truly an impressive facility, regardless of which side you cheer for.
Strolling by Denny Chimes is recommend, as is attending the Elephant Stomp, where the Alabama band fires up the crowd. The Walk of Champions is another cool scene, as Saban and the team make their way into the stadium before kickoff.
At LSU, fans flock to see Mike the Tiger, their live Bengal tiger mascot, in his on-campus cage. If he is up and stalking around, this can be a very cool experience. The LSU band marching down the hill into the stadium is also a great event to see. Not to mention, LSU Tiger Stadium at night is a pretty intense tradition in itself.
It is hard to beat Alabama in tradition, they get the slight edge here.
The LSU campus is covered in beautiful oak trees that shade the ground of the University and give the campus a lush and comfortable feeling. The historical buildings that dot the campus give it a distinct academic look.
Memorial Tower and War Memorial, the Herbert Law Center and the French House are just a few examples of venues on campus that make it a unique and beautiful place to visit.
The University of Alabama also has a beautiful campus. It is filled with lush green lawns, stately brick academic buildings and just enough modern touches to look current. Buildings with large white columns and grand entrances seem to be around every corner, including Shelby Hall, the Capstone College of Nursing and the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.
Both of these schools have nice campuses with a solid college feel, it is a tie in this category.
The Fans and Atmosphere
There is a confidence among the fans at Alabama. Some may even say an arrogance. They just say they are used to winning after all of these years. However, most people who have visited Tuscaloosa will say that the people are welcoming and hospitable.
There is an undeniable spirit in Tuscaloosa on game days. With game day in town this weekend, it will be a fun and special atmosphere.
The atmosphere at LSU is just as fun and may have game day next season, too. On average, the fans just may be a bit more wild. A fan base known for raucous night games, will readily admit that it can be an intimidating venue for opposing fans and players. Just the way they want it.
Because not everyone likes too much wild and crazy, Alabama gets the slight edge here.
Alabama won two of the five categories, LSU won one and the two schools tied in the other two.
That gives the Alabama Crimson Tide the award for better college campus on game day, between the two schools, from this writer (who isn't a fan or alum of either of these two programs).
While one had to be named the best, both games and campuses, are among the nation's best and would be a blast to be at for this epic matchup.
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