NEW ORLEANS - As they left their campus in Baton Rouge Wednesday for the Big Easy - normally a 90-minute trip - a helicopter flew overhead and followed their progress. Television stations broke into regular programming and showed their arrival at the team hotel.
Who’s No. 1?
The LSU Tigers.
There is no question in the polls, as the top-ranked Tigers prepare for their final game of the season, Monday night’s BCS title game against Alabama.
So impressive are LSU’s credentials - wins over Alabama, Rose Bowl champion Oregon, and Orange Bowl champion West Virginia - that some Associated Press voters said that even if Alabama wins Monday night, they would still consider putting LSU as their No. 1 team in the final vote.
LSU will feel at home playing in the Superdome, which was the site of its first two title-game triumphs in 2003 and 2008. And despite the support of a strong Alabama fan base that has camped out in New Orleans, the Tigers will have the home-team edge.
“There’s no other place we wanted to play,’’ said LSU coach Les Miles, in reference to both the BCS title game and New Orleans. “For us, there’s no other place for us to play. This is right where we needed to be.’’
Guard Will Blackwell was a freshman when LSU beat Ohio State in 2008, and he remembers the friendly environment.
“A lot of our faithful are going to be down here,’’ he said. “If we can’t play this game in Tiger Stadium, the only place we’ d rather play is here.
“We have a lot of people from Louisiana and New Orleans, and we’re familiar with the Superdome. I think it adds a little bit of comfort knowing that your fans can travel to the game.
“It’s a place you’re familiar with, so hopefully well use it to our advantage this week.’’
LSU defensive backs Tharold Simon and Tyrann Mathieu swapped jerseys in practice yesterday. “He wore No. 7 in high school,’’ said Mathieu. “So I always joke around in practice and say I’m Darrelle Revis. That’s kind of why I want the 24.’’
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.