BATON ROUGE, La. -- There is nothing typical about Saturday’s LSU-South Carolina game at Tiger Stadium.
Because of the catastrophic floods in South Carolina last week, the schools were forced to move the game from the Gamecocks’ Williams-Brice Stadium to Baton Rouge only a few days before kickoff.
The last-minute nature of the game produced one of the smallest crowds you’ll ever see at LSU for a football game. About an hour before kickoff, LSU had sold 42,000 tickets -- less than half the capacity of a stadium that seats 102,321.
LSU went out of its way to welcome South Carolina’s team and fans to Louisiana, extending numerous friendly gestures to make it feel more like the home game it was supposed to be.
The school flew South Carolina’s flag at the stadium and posted the image of the Palmetto State logo on the scoreboard.
The Baton Rouge airport posted a sign welcoming the Gamecocks to Louisiana, and digital billboards around the city did the same.
The Red Cross was on hand, accepting donations for disaster relief in South Carolina.
A group of LSU students painted “SEC United” on their chests, showing the bond between fellow SEC institutions.
LSU’s band played the South Carolina alma mater during its pregame performance and the Tigers’ fans even cheered as South Carolina’s team took the field to its traditional entrance music from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
As for the game itself, there were plenty of differences there, too. In keeping with a plan hatched even before the game changed sites, South Carolina wore all-white uniforms and LSU wore purple jerseys for a home SEC game for the first time since 1994. The Tigers also broke out a rarely-worn style of white helmet for the first time since a game against Tulane in 2007.
Longtime public address announcer Dan Borne had already made plans to officiate a wedding on Saturday, so he was unavailable to handle the PA duties. LSU senior associate sports information director Bill Franques handled the job in his place.
Borne’s story was much like that of many LSU fans, who had trips, weddings and a multitude of other social events planned for a weekend where the Tigers were supposed to play an away game. But the LSU and South Carolina communities -- only a small contingent of Gamecocks fans made the trip -- adapted the best they could under unusual circumstances.
Otherwise, it was a completely normal SEC Saturday.