Preaux-LSU sentiment strong in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. - Though the Tigers opened their season nearly 1,500 miles away from home, some die-hard LSU faithful managed to make the trip west to the desert, witnessing a game that proved to make the trip worthwhile.

The Tigers and state of Louisiana were well represented by a small contingent estimated at around 6,000, seated in both the upper and lower sections of the west side of Sun Devil Stadium. The larger of the two groups was well placed, right near the goal line where Early Doucet made his game winning grab.

Before the game got kicked off, parts of the LSU contingent could be seen at Tempe bar "Daisy Duke's", setting up LSU headquarters at the outdoor bar only a few blocks from campus. Others kept up with tailgating tradition as one Tiger backer was seen making a pot of jambalaya big enough to feed the entire Tiger team.

Though many were glad to see the boys of the Bayou back in action, several fans still had their minds on events back home.

Ben Wailey of Baton Rouge was one of those seated near the North end zone who managed to make the trip out to Tempe.

"It feels good but it doesn't," Wailey said about having some sort of distraction from the Hurricane cleanup back home. "The most important thing is you still can't ignore what's going on in the Gulf Coast."

Others were more than happy to get their minds off the effects of Hurricane Katrina, including Metairie resident Rebecca Bibler, who originally evacuated to Houston but re-located to Phoenix to stay with friends.

"I have a really good set up, right up there in the LSU section," Bibler said, whose Metairie apartment took on a foot-and-a-half of water. "Once I found out the game was going to be here I just had to go."

Bibler also wanted the folks back home that her thoughts were with them, and said to "keep your spirits high."

Coaches Crossing: Though LSU Coach Les Miles and Arizona State Coach Dirk Koetter had never met on the field, the two coaches crossed paths not long ago during a job hunt. Koetter originally accepted the Oklahoma State position in the spring of 2001, but quickly changed his mind and came to Tempe. The man who ended up taking the Oklahoma State job was none other than current LSU Head Coach Les Miles. Since that spring of 2001, Miles has compiled a record of 29-21, including Saturday's win, while Koetter's Sun Devils have gone 27-24.

Katrina Relief: Although no moment of silence was observed before the game, the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina victims could be felt all around the stadium. All proceeds (minus operations costs) were donated to relief efforts. T-shirts were sold outside the stadium which read "Two Teams: Same Goal" with proceeds from those sales also going to Katrina victims. Most notably on television were the painted end zones. Written in the North end zone in bold letters was "Together We Stand" bookmarked by both states colored with respective team colors. Written in the South end zone was the website which was also bookmarked by state outlines and filled with teams colors.

Hagan's Milestone: Arizona State Wide Receiver became the school's all-time leading receiver on Saturday night, when he hauled in his 189th career catch. The mark had been previously held by former Arizona State All-American and College Football Hall of Famer John Jefferson. Hagan, a senior from Palmdale, California, was a 2nd-team All-American last season and has been tabbed by many publications as a pre-season 1st-team All-American in 2005. He finished the game with 7 catches for 95 yards, to bring his career total to 191.

Sticky Situation: Each team wore different stickers on their helmets throughout the game in honor of Louisiana and surrounding areas. LSU sported the "Fleur-de-Lis" along with an American Flag while Arizona State displayed the Southeastern Conference's tri-state logo on their helmets for the duration of the game. LSU Head Coach Les Miles said that he wanted his team to represent their home state and that he would guess that "a lot of the people in Louisiana, and the Gulf region, kept their eye on the Tigers tonight."

Home Sweet Home: Each team sported their home jerseys as LSU donned their home whites purple lettering, while Arizona State wore its maroon with yellow lettering. The game was considered an LSU home game so the Tigers had the option on uniform color. SEC officials were also used throughout the game.

SEC First: This was the first meeting between the two schools and also marked the first time that Arizona State had played an SEC opponent at all in football. The Sun Devils had twice previously played Arkansas, but that was before the Razorbacks joined the conference. LSU and Arizona State have played one another in other sports, most notably in baseball this past spring. The Tigers took a pair from the Devils 6-5 and 20-3. Both games were played at Alex Box Stadium.

Koetter's Korner: Arizona State Head Coach Dirk Koetter treated 55 displaced Tulane students to Saturday night's game. Each of the students is now enrolled at Arizona State for the fall semester. Koetter also teamed with Nike to provide the students with new ASU hats.

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