When the 2023 SEC schedule was released, most Ole Miss fans let out a shallow sigh when their eyes reached November 11th.
There, sandwiched between Texas A&M and Louisiana-Monroe, sat the Georgia Bulldogs, fresh off their second consecutive national title and on Ole Miss’ schedule for the first time since 2016*. But upon closer inspection of the schedule, a deeper sigh emerged when fans realized Ole Miss would open SEC play with Alabama and LSU in back-to-back weeks.
*It was Kirby Smart’s first year in Athens, and Ole Miss won that game 45-14. Surely a Nick Saban disciple has forgotten that and won’t use it as motivation!
To avoid an 0-2 SEC start for the first time since 2018 (also losses to Alabama [62-7] and LSU [45-16]), Ole Miss fans knew the Rebels would need to beat one of the top 10 teams in the country. If you’ve lived in a remote part of a national forest since the Johnny Vaught era, that is not something Ole Miss does with any degree of regularity.
After falling to 0-1 in SEC play last weekend, Ole Miss is now on the second leg of the Alabama-LSU run. From an Atlanta-based mathematical perspective, it’s likely a must-win game. I say likely because maybe no one in the SEC is great this year?
But, if you’re like me and have accepted Atlanta is not on the table, then it’s not a must-win game. However, if Ole Miss turns out a gross showing in a loss, things may fall apart before we get to October.
But before we spend a little time discussing the 2023 LSU team, let’s get to know Louisiana State University.
Often called “The Jewel of I-12” or “The Monument to Road Construction,” Baton Rouge has been home to LSU since 1869 (original location was in Pineville, Louisiana; more on that later). It’s entirely possible I made up those two nicknames, but I’ve never heard anyone say Baton Rouge is not called those names.
For the most part, Baton Rouge is fine. Well, unless you are a hospital run by an LSU booster, then maybe not. Might need some two-factor authentication on those bank accounts before he steals your money.
But you know what is 100 percent not fine? Getting across the Mississippi River bridge going east or west.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development should do everyone a favor and put up “Now Entering Hell” signs one mile from the bridge on both sides. Set expectations so people don’t rage-rupture blood vessel in their eyes when it takes them 45 minutes to go three quarters of a mile.
The only non-awful crossing-the-bridge experience I’ve had was around 11 PM. Granted, the sample size is small, but my suggestion is to either prepare for hell or time your trip where you’re traveling with all the other lunatics on the interstate late at night.
Louisiana State University History
Officially known as Louisiana State University and Mechanical College, LSU opened its doors on January 2, 1860 near the aforementioned Pineville, Louisiana. Pineville is near Alexandria, which is known as “The Jewel of I-49” and about two hours northwest of Baton Rouge.
LSU started as a military academy, modeling its approach after that of the Virginia Military Institute. As you may have heard, a fire-friendly man named William Tecumseh Sherman was the school’s first superintendent.
About a year later, when Louisiana seceded from the Union, Sherman resigned his position to go back north and eventually fight the Confederacy. I don’t remember the exact quote, but in Ken Burns’ The Civil War, Sherman’s justification for total war upon the South was, in part, rooted in his experience living there.
Essentially, he said, after living among those people and knowing the way they are, the only way to force them to quit was to destroy everything and make them feel pain they’ve never felt before. CORRECT AND MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Like almost every school in the South, LSU was closed during the war but reopened in October of 1865. Four years later, a fire wiped out the school (WHERE WAS WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN ON THIS DATE), and they packed up and moved to Baton Rouge and resumed schooling on November 1, 1869.
Cadets initially lived at the State Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, which was later renamed the SEC School of Officiating. FOLKS,,,,,
In 1870, the school officially became known as Louisiana State University and moved to the site of the present-day state capitol in 1886. The land for the current campus was bought in 1918 and construction started four years later, which feels like a stretch where many a politician or contractor skimmed off the top, per Louisiana law.
The school began moving to the current campus in 1925, but the move was not completed until 1932, which qualifies for an all-time move from hell. While the move continued for another six years, the present-day campus was dedicated on April 30, 1926.
The early reviews of LSU were not good, as it was called a “third-rate” institution by the Association of State Universities. But then...
Huey P. Long has entered the chat
The Louisiana governor redirected monies (many monies) to the school and transformed it into one of the largest schools in the country. Related, there is the infamous story about Long and his entourage having a football game stopped so they could walk across the field to get to their seats rather than walk around the stadium.
Since this is Louisiana we’re talking about, we can’t conclude the history without a good scandal. In 1939, LSU president James Monroe Smith, who was appointed by Huey Long, got caught embezzling half of a million dollars.
The investigation took down another 20 state officials, including governor Richard W. Leche, who was got 10 years in a federal prison. Not to be confused with the 33 months an LSU booster got for stealing hospital money and giving it family members of former players (for fun and not services rendered), as well as using it for his own entertainment.
Rapid Fire LSU Trivia
- As of Spring 2023, LSU’s total enrollment was about 32,500 students, with just above 28,000 being undergrads
- In 1953, Alexander Pierre “A.P.” Tureaud Jr. was the first black undergrad to attend LSU (through a court order), but he was eventually expelled when a higher court overturned the order (LSU was integrated in 1964)
- The first architectural firm hired to design the current campus planned to design everything in a Spanish or Mexican style, but they were fired (probably for totally fine and ethical reasons), and the firm that replaced them went for more of a tribute to the Italian Renaissance
- The 1,200 live oak and magnolia trees all over campus are valued at over $50 million (again, this is Louisiana, so numbers fudging is potentially in play)
- From November 2020 through 2022, the LSU athletic department was ground zero for lawsuits related to people who knew better doing their best to ignore sexual misconduct claims against football players
- Mike the Tiger has a live stream of his on-campus habitat
- My sister went to LSU and, while in town for maybe her graduation (?), I saw former LSU quarterback Rohan Davey at the hotel on campus. He looked exactly like he did on TV.
- Ruth Fertel - founder of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
- Todd Graves - founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s and bland-ass chicken fingers (totally fine when you season them yourself)
- Will Wright - creator of The Sims and responsible for millions of wasted hours
- Members of Better Than Ezra - GET IN THE TIME MACHINE, FAM
GONNA NEED A MOMENT.
- David Duke - noted neo-Nazi and former grand wizard of the KKK
- Clay Higgins - always in the running for one of the dumbest members of Congress
- Hubert Humphrey - namesake of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis and former vice president
Great Moments in LSU Athletics
This is how you close out a basketball game:
The thing about Les Miles was, while being a super creep, he realized that if he recruited like crazy, it would mostly cover up how incompetent he was. Mostly.
What About LSU’s Football Team in 2023?
As I did yesterday, we once again turn to the advanced stats profile of LSU.
The TL;DR synopsis says LSU is cooking on offense, but they have issues on defense, particularly on the back end. But when you watch them play, their group up front can be a monster to deal with.
That is of note because nothing Ole Miss did against the good defensive fronts of Tulane and Alabama suggests they will handle LSU’s front well at all. However, if they do for a few stretches, it may be enough for Jaxson Dart to make some plays as KJ Jefferson did last week against the Tigers.
On the other side of the ball, Jayden Daniels is the first serious passing threat Ole Miss has faced in 2023, and I have no idea how they perform against him or a running game that is statistically good.
If Ole Miss turns in a defensive performance like they did against Alabama and their offensive line elevates to MEH, maybe that’s enough to get across the finish line. I have more faith in the defense holding up their end of that scenario, but we never rule out an offensive heater.