They say LSU is a tough place to play.
They say Death Valley at night is as crazy an atmosphere as you can find in college football.
Who is the vague they? Well, in this case, it’s the coaches and players at Mississippi State, who will be facing the lights, yells, live animals and massive linemen of Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
Over the course of the week, the main focus for the Bulldogs was the linemen part of that equation and figuring out how they can rebound after two losses against the No. 9 team in the country.
But to pretend the electricity of Death Valley is not a concern, they say, would just be a lie.
“One of the toughest places to play in the country normally,” Dan Mullen said, “and I know they get a little tougher at night down there. It’ll be a great challenge for our team.”
In this case, there is such a thing as a home-field advantage.
“There’s so many tough environments you play in in the league, I think it becomes a mindset on their players,” Mullen said. “More difficult than a lot of stadiums. It’s as loud as anywhere you’re gonna go play. But I think it is the mindset and confidence their fans kind of exude on their players that are playing that makes it tougher to go play there.”
One of the goals for MSU is to get a quick start and take the crowd out of the game, as much as it can be taken out, anyway.
But even before the game begins, the intimidation starts, when Mike the Tiger, LSU’s actual live tiger mascot, is wheeled out near the entrance to the field form the visitor’s locker room.
“I remember seeing the tiger they have when you come out. It’s a big tiger. It was different,” junior running back LaDarius Perkins said of his first experience with the feline mascot. “It didn’t scare me or anything, it was just different. You don’t expect to see a tiger when you walk out of the locker room.”
Then comes the crowd.
“It’s very loud,” Perkins said. “That’s the main thing. They’ve got different types of chants. They’ve got a great atmosphere, really, and their fans are very energetic and very involved also.”
Senior linebacker Cam Lawrence, who has played at LSU before, said it certainly is loud, but he actually likes it.
“It’s definitely gonna be hostile territory,” Lawrence said. “It’s loud, it can be a little intimidating, but I kind of like that environment. I told [the younger players], when we went to other away games, we’re all we got. We’ve gotta be back-to-back.”
And it’s players like Perkins, Lawrence and others, who have played in Death Valley before, that Mullen and MSU will depend on as they fight the crowd.
And at this point in the season, the Bulldogs are much more concerned with winning and the 11 players on the other side of the ball. They know the crowd won’t help things, but it’s just another part of the game.
Junior quarterback Tyler Russell said, basically, he’s not scared.
“I played there my redshirt freshman year, so it shouldn’t be any different,” he said. “I won’t be nervous or anything.”