Many of those fans are making plans to watch the game that dominates much of the conversation in the state this time of year, the Iron Bowl – which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. – then scramble to Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium for what they consider the main event — the Gamecocks play Samford at 7 p.m.
“That’s sure what we’re hoping,” said JSU spokeswoman Patty Hobbs. Her family will hold an Iron Bowl party at her Jacksonville home before heading to watch JSU play, she said.
Despite being a graduate of Samford University, Jacksonville resident Carol Catrett said Saturday will be all about the Gamecocks for her family.
The Catrett’s daughter, Susan Grace, is head of JSU’s Marching Ballerinas, a dance group that performs with the Southerners marching band. Their oldest, Katie, was a Ballerina for five years.
Saturday's game holds special importance for the Catrett family. This year is Susan’s last as a Ballerina.
“Tim and I have been Ballerina parents for nine years. Last week was very emotional because we thought it was our last game. Sunday morning changed everything,” Catrett said.
Catrett said friends from Texas will be driving to Alabama to watch Auburn play, but the Catretts won’t be visiting with them.
“We will not get to see them this trip because we will watch the game at home and then head out the door to our stadium,” Catrett said.
Kenneth Smith, JSU’s 2013 homecoming king, said he was second in line Sunday to get tickets for JSU’s game.
“They only had a few free tickets for students and my car’s broken down, so I told my mom to give me her car keys. I don’t care what I’ve got to do; I want to get one of those tickets,” Smith said.
JSU alumnus and Cherokee County resident Jesse Clausen said he and his family are devoted JSU fans and will attend Saturday’s game. He met his wife, Gigi, at JSU’s International House, where he later proposed to her in his dorm room. They married in 1997.
“In fact when I asked my youngest son, Dominick, age 5, if he was going to Alabama one day he replied, ‘No, I’m going to JSU just like you,’” Clausen said. “JSU is just a great big family atmosphere.”
“Currently we have four potential JSU students and twins on the way. JSU sporting events is a way for our family to enjoy time together away from video games and other distractions,” Clausen said.
It was no happy accident JSU’s kickoff was scheduled hours after what many hope will be the end of the Iron Bowl on Saturday.
“When we submitted the proposal it was definitely going to be at a time when the Iron Bowl wasn’t,” Hobbs said.
Reached by phone at midweek, JSU’s athletic department spokesman Greg Seitz said he didn’t have an exact figure for ticket sales, but he believed the game was selling well.
“We’ve had a lot of online sales,” Seitz said. “Samford is a great opponent for us, and it’s generating a lot of interest.”
Like Hobbs, many JSU fans will spend the entirety of Saturday focused on watching college football. It’s just “what we do here in the South,” Hobbs said.
“We’re going to miss it when it’s over. Of course, we hope it’s not going to be over for a while,” she said.
A JSU win would put the team on the road to play McNeese State at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.