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Imagine playing the Rose Bowl in Chicago, the Sugar Bowl in Kansas City or the Orange Bowl in Omaha.
Outdoors, on a mucky field. Snowy day, temperatures in the 20s. Windy, too.
Maybe that would tilt the edge toward teams like Ohio State when it's time to decide the national title.
In the meantime ... welcome to Tigerland, boys! Oh, and be sure to check out that huge LSU billboard on the drive in from the airport.
"I don't know that home-field advantage affects outcomes of games, to be honest with you," LSU coach Les Miles said this week.
As he spoke in the hallway of a downtown hotel, a Dixieland jazz band kept moving closer, playing louder and louder. In the lobby, fans dressed in purple-and-gold feather boas surrounded the LSU stars, and a woman insisted on kissing All-American lineman Glenn Dorsey.
"They tell me it gets progressively better from this point forward," Miles said. "Or worse, depending how you look at it."
The Superdome is a quick 80 miles from the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, and the Tigers are plenty familiar with the Bourbon Street buzz leading up to Monday night's game. The only one absent is Mike, the live Bengal tiger mascot &
his cage is being renovated, so he's back home.
But does proximity provide a huge edge in a game like this? Not always.
Southern California liked its chances for winning the 2005 title at the nearby Rose Bowl. Boosted by a huge throng of Texas backers, Vince Young and the Longhorns upset Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and the Trojans 41-38.
A year earlier, LSU felt right at home in the Superdome, beating favored Oklahoma 21-14 for the BCS national title.
In the 1980s and into the 1990s, Miami got a big boost from holding title games at the Orange Bowl. Back then, opponents such as Nebraska and Oklahoma would trudge away from the old stadium, grousing about playing on the Hurricanes' home field.
The No. — Buckeyes shrug off any worries. They've heard all the Tiger tales, about the taunts and trouble. Plus, they point out, they won at the Big House and other big houses this season.
"We've been warned about how LSU, the fans have latched onto that kind of team," Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline said. "Between the hurricane and just the whole situation of being down in New Orleans and Louisiana, (they) take it very personal."
At the 2002 Sugar Bowl, Illinois did everything it could to prepare for playing a lower-ranked LSU team at the Superdome. They put up with chants of "Tiger bait!" from little boys and girls, and blasted crowd noise and Cajun music over the loudspeakers at practice.
the second quarter, LSU led 27-0 and the crowd was so crazed, then-coach Nick Saban took the stadium microphone and pleaded with fans over the public-address system to settle down.
"We are in their territory," Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells said of Monday's matchup with LSU. "That's something we've been emphasizing to our team, that we're not at a neutral site, really. It's basically a home game for them."
LSU trounced Notre Dame 41-14 in last year's Sugar Bowl and beat Tulane on the same field this season. Ohio State last played at the Superdome in 1999, when it defeated Texas AM at the Sugar.
"You really can't ask for anywhere better to play," LSU lineman Ciron Black said Friday. "I have no idea how many tickets we have or how many they have, but I'm sure it will be loud for both sides."
Each team officially gets 16,000 tickets, and that will fill up about half the building. Many more go to bowl officials and sponsors. The public gets the rest &
in theory, both schools have an equal shot at getting them.
"There's nothing we can do about it. If we would have been given more tickets, we could have changed the home-field advantage," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "But that's part of the reality of it. And that's OK. We'll get tickets.
"There's some excitement of going and seeing a different part of the world than you've ever seen. And there's an advantage to that, too. Now, obviously, there's an advantage to being close to home. But I think there's no disadvantage to our scenario."
Many first-time visitors to the Superdome talk about its odd lighting and pulsating noise. Tressel doesn't seem overly concerned, and the Buckeyes' only workout there will come during a light walkthrough Sunday.
In the meantime, Ohio State lineman Kirk Barton was eager to see LSU fans up close.
"I mean, it was kind of like in 'Rocky IV' when he goes to Russia, gets off the plane and the KGB is with him," he said. "As far as running my laps around the city tonight, I'll probably have some people chasing after me with their flags and stuff.
"They love their Tigers down here. It's very evident. It would be the same way if they had a bowl game in Columbus."
Miles, who was born and raised in Ohio, was asked whether it would indeed be the same thing.
"More like Toledo," he said. "Not quite Columbus."
No. 2 LSU feels home-field advantage is a big help
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