Death Valley is the last place opponents want to be when the sun goes down.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, turns into a madhouse during night games. During the day, not so much. At least until the Georgia Bulldogs came to town in 2003.
The 2:30 p.m. kickoff time is the reason many college football experts chose the Bulldogs to win.
Little did they know LSU fans were bringing their night-game mentality to the afternoon. The drinks were flowing, the sun was beating down and LSU had a chance to prove themselves as national title contenders. It was LOUD.
Quarterback Matt Mauck's touchdown pass to Skyler Green in the final minutes of the fourth quarter made the stadium as deafening as it's ever been.
Matt Mauck's TD to Skyler Green vs. Georgia in 2003
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Nick Saban's LSU Tigers were on the cusp of the elite tier of college football. He was slowly building the program into a behemoth, and a win over No. 7 Georgia would certainly elevate its status.
The game was a back-and-forth war. There was a field goal here, a touchdown there. It was good ole-fashioned 11 a.m. Big Ten football down south.
Georgia tied the game at 10 apiece on a 93-yard screen pass from David Greene to Tyson Browning with 4:25 left in the fourth quarter.
Wide receiver Devery Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to give the Tigers great field position.
Mauck marched the offense to the Georgia 34-yard-line, but found himself in trouble on third-and-four with 1:30 remaining.
He took the snap, rolled to his left and heaved the ball to a wide open Skylar Green in the end zone.
LSU took the lead, 17-10.
Brandon Landry, the owner of Baton Rouge sports bar Walk-On's Bistreaux, described the wild scene after the catch in a 2018 Sports Illustrated article:
"We were trying to keep the inside clean and classy," Landry remembers, "but when Skyler Green caught the ball, there was more beer flying and cheese fries ... People were throwing oysters against the mini blinds."
Cornerback Corey Webster sealed the win by picking off Greene with 32 seconds left.
The win showed the college football world LSU had what it took to win a national title, which came to fruition only a few months later.
Charles Hanagriff, a former LSU radio personality, spoke on the significance of the victory:
"You think about the great Tiger Stadium games, and you almost always think of the great night games," says Hanagriff. "I still believe it's the most significant day win in Tiger Stadium history."
No matter the kickoff time, Death Valley isn't something to mess with.
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