JACKSONVILLE — Josh Clemons knows plenty about Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
He has played there twice when he was at Kentucky, losing 35-7 in 2011 and 41-3 in 2014. He’ll get a third trip Saturday when his Jacksonville State Gamecocks visit LSU.
"It is very exciting to play there and from the moment you start to warm up, the fans are on you,” said Clemons, who rushed for 69 yards in the 2011 loss. “People are out there when the bus pulls up and they will be in to it the whole game, no matter the score.”
Head coach John Grass joked that isn’t how Clemons told him it would be: “We’re expecting a mellow environment, from what Josh said. The fans don’t get into it at all,” Grass deadpanned.
In reality, Saturday’s game at LSU is a tricky one for Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks can’t say for certain what to expect, especially after the Bengal Tigers lost 16-14 at Wisconsin on Saturday. It was an unexpected loss for a program expected to compete for a national title this season.
"We really don't look at it differently (that LSU lost) because any one of those two teams could have won that game,” Grass said. “A first game is a first game. We didn't play very well as we would have liked and know that we can play better than that.”
Jax State got the weekend off after Thursday’s 31-12 win over North Alabama. JSU did film work Friday, and the players didn’t have to hit the practice field again until Monday.
That gave them a chance to watch LSU on television.
“I was hyped up watching them,” Clemons said. "It was a great matchup and one of the top games of the weekend. I was watching it for fun and also them being our next opponent. It was good to get some extra film on them."
JSU has has experience at large FBS stadiums. Last year, the Gamecocks lost in overtime at Auburn 27-20. They played at Michigan State in 2014, losing 45-7. Fifth-year seniors, such as quarterback Eli Jenkins, were first-year players when in 2012 JSU lost at Arkansas 49-24 and Florida 23-0.
Saturday’s game also gives JSU a chance to play on a major network. ESPNU will carry the game. The Gamecocks played three FCS playoff games last year on ESPNU or ESPN2, and the Auburn game was carried by the SEC Network.
Win or lose, Saturday presents a challenge the Gamecocks seem to appreciate.
“It gives us a chance to showcase our talent,” Jenkins said. “Against a big school like LSU, It’s a better opportunity to show what we’ve got.”