Tennessee football gets huge break with kickoff time at LSU

Nov 13, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; A general overall view of the LSU Tigers logo at midfield at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; A general overall view of the LSU Tigers logo at midfield at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

You seriously could not have written out a better time for Tennessee football to ever have to play the LSU Tigers in Death Valley. The Vols were already getting to play them coming off a bye week while they are under a first-year head coach.

Now, UT gets to play them in the afternoon instead of at night. The Vols and LSU will kickoff Oct. 8 at Noon ET, 11 a.m. in Baton Rouge, La., and play on ESPN, according to the TV schedule for SEC games that was released on Monday.

It’s the first noon game all year for Tennessee football, as they have kicked off twice at 3:30 p.m. ET and twice at 7 p.m. ET. By getting to face LSU, they get to avoid one of the most dreaded things in the SEC: Fans in Death Valley at night.

Anybody who knows the history of LSU knows that place is brutal to play in at night. That corner of Louisiana is one of the wildest places in the SEC, and fans can get pretty crazy by that point. For anybody on their first visit there, it can be even wilder.

Considering the fact that the Vols are going to be heading in as a top 10 team, LSU will have a ton of hype for the game. As a result, if kickoff were at night, it would have been extremely difficult, even for a team already tested on the road like UT.

The Vols’ only road game so far this year is at the Pittsburgh Panthers, and they filled that stadium with so many of their own fans that it was almost a tune-up road game. LSU will be a completely different animal, and avoiding them at night is a huge advantage.

Now, of course, you might point out that Tennessee football had one of its most legendary comebacks at LSU in a night game. That was 2005, when the two faced off on a Monday night for Les Miles’ home opener. LSU was a top five team then.

However, it should also be noted that the game had been postponed due to Hurricane Rita, the area had been wrecked by Hurricane Katrina three weeks earlier, and LSU had canceled one home game and turned another into a road game. Simply put, there were tons of distractions that night.

Because of that, the LSU crowd, while the ones there tried to be loud, couldn’t create a typical Death Valley setting. It was a Monday night, after all, and the fatigue of everything that had happened was a huge part of the Vols being able to come back.

Better examples are 2000 and 2010. The Vols were a top 10 team in 2000 and visiting an LSU team that had just lost to the UAB Blazers. However, it was a night game, and LSU fans were wild enough to will their team to a victory.

A decade later, UT was the massive underdog visiting LSU in Derek Dooley’s first year. That game was a noon kickoff, 11 a.m. LSU’s time, and the Tigers played extremely sloppy. They committed four turnovers and imploded at the end, running out the clock on the goal line trailing 14-10.

Only a crazy 13-men on the field penalty by the Vols allowed LSU to win, a penalty that was created by the confusion of LSU’s and Mile’s incompetence. LSU took advantage of the chance to run one final goal-line play with no time on the clock and scored a touchdown to win 16-14.

Still, you can see the differences. Also, let’s talk about what each team will be dealing with in this game. Again, the Vols will be coming off a bye, so they’ll be well-rested. LSU, meanwhile, will be a week removed from a visit to the Auburn Tigers.

Next. Five takeaways from Vols' 38-33 win vs. Florida. dark

Taking all of this into account, Tennessee football, now 4-0 and ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll, is in a great position to move to 5-0 at LSU. Brian Kelly is going to build a powerhouse there, but that hasn’t happened yet, so Josh Heupel’s team can take advantage. A noon kickoff only further helps that.