HEAD - LSU to leap and sweep to easy win over Wisconsin
GLENN GUILBEAU COLUMN
USA TODAY Network
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – A tip of the cheese head hat to LSU deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry for one of the best tackles of his career.
The former LSU linebacker from New Iberia is responsible for this purple and gold blitz to the great green north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, also known as Titletown, USA, because of the Packers' dynasty of five NFL titles in the 1960s under Coach Vince Lombardi, including the first two Super Bowls.
Make that the former Titletown. It’s Tigertown now with Purple and Gold from Lombardi Avenue to Milwaukee and on to Chicago. The Canadian border is only 540 miles northwest of Lambeaux (not a typo) Field here as LSU’s manifest destiny for its brand of football continues.
The Tigers’ 2016 season opener against Wisconsin here will be its northernmost game ever other than a 31-23 win over Washington in Seattle (2,535 miles by car) in 2009. Last year, there was a trip to upstate, New York, at Syracuse (1,435 miles), Havana, Cuba back in 1907 (741 miles not all by car), Wisconsin in Madison (1,022 miles) in 1971 and USC in Los Angeles (1,816 miles) in 1984, to name a few. The Tigers also played Fordham at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan in 1942, Manhattan at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn in 1935 and Army at West Point, New York, in 1931.
Ausberry also wants LSU to play in Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field in Chicago in the future. And those are great ideas as was this one. This is the time of year for faraway road trips. These are better than bowl games, which for programs like LSU is old hat. The Tigers last did not go to a postseason bowl in 1999. But unless those are top tier bowls or playoffs, they don’t move the needle. LSU's last four lower tier bowls - the Texas Bowl last season in Houston, the Music City in Nashville, Tennessee, the Outback in Tampa, Florida and the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta - don’t cut cheese. Fans were not as hopeful. The season was over, and LSU had just lost to Alabama again. Fans were tired, and many of the SEC bowl tie-ins are tired.
A trip like this is rejuvenating for the fan base. Going to a new place does that.
LSU does lose home games because of these trips, but it will not lose any money. Ausberry said LSU will receive $2.5 million for the game, which is about what the school makes from a home game even against McNeese State.
It’s a win-win situation. Unless you’re staying at a Green Bay hotel. On Thursday night, the rate was $165. Friday night? $425. That’s what you call a Fairfield Friday Night.
Is it worth it? Well, it feels a lot like another sports heaven on earth about 951 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. And the temperatures here today were what they often are there in June – mid-70s.
Yes, Green Bay, you have been officially occupied. For LSU fans, you are the football version of Omaha.
What’s next for the traveling Tiger? Canada?
Here are five things to look for in Saturday’s game at the NFL's best venue.
1.WISCONSIN QUARTERBACK BART HOUSTON – He is a senior but very green - and not Packer green. He has played in 15 games, completing 29 of 51 passes for 295 yards. Your assignment – beat new LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, formerly of Washington. Good luck with that.
2.LSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DAVE ARANDA – One of the best defensive coordinators in the business for several years makes his LSU debut against a quarterback he is familiar with who is no Bart Starr at reading defenses. With some of Aranda’s blitz packages and LSU’s speed, Wisconsin’s Bart better not say, “Eat my shorts.”
3.LSU QUARTERBACK BRANDON HARRIS – No more hernia. Same offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron and offense since the spring of 2014, and this year Cameron will be close to you on the sidelines.. Twelve consecutive starts under your helmet. You should be getting the hang of it. No excuses.
4.LSU TAILBACK LEONARD FOURNETTE – In a venue like Lambeau on ABC national television at 2:30, it’s time you and your talented offensive line pick up where you left off – before the Alabama game last year.
5.LSU NOSE GUARD TRAVONTE VALENTINE – Attention Bart. Valentine weighs 364 pounds and eats double teams.
PREDICTION: LSU 27, WISCONSIN 14 – There will be some kinks in LSU’s game, but in the end the Purple Pack will overpower the Cheesy Badgers with Fournette gaining 173 yards on 21 carries as if he was Jim Taylor.
“What you want is a seal here and seal here, and you run the ball in the alley,” Lombardi said about his patented Packer sweep, which is right up LSU coach Les Miles’ alley.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst will be repeating another famous Lombardi line:
“What the hell’s going on out here? Everybody grabbing out there. Nobody tackling. Just grabbing. Everybody. Grab. Grab. Grab. Nobody tackling.”