(photo by Mark Wagner)

Tusk to Tail: Breakfast, Bailey’s and bowl game hopes

Last Saturday surely wasn’t what most of us were expecting. Talking with people most of the week and on Saturday, they all felt like it would be a difficult matchup, but they also felt confident the Hogs would win the game.

So where does that leave us now? The Hogs are 5-4 with three really difficult games ahead to get bowl eligible. I feel like most of us were looking at another trip to Florida or perhaps the Cotton Bowl for postseason play. Now it really looks like this team is going to have to fight and crawl their way to 6 wins for a trip to Nashville, Memphis or Shreveport. Of course, only these coaches and the players can determine that. We can only show up and cheer for them. It’s all still on the table for them. The Hogs just need to stop giving away the first quarter and play from the first to the last whistle.

The LSU Tigers are coming to town this coming Saturday, riding a nice high of just beating Nick Saban and Alabama on a gutsy 2-point conversion call in overtime. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but you might remember Coach Bielema getting his first conference win against the Tigers on a cold night in Fayetteville eight years ago. Students and fans alike rushed the field for the first time in decades from my recollection. It really only took a little success from the Hogs offense for that Tiger team to quit. Let’s hope these guys aren’t fans of the cold either, and follow that similar path.

It’s an 11 a.m. kick off and it’s going to be a cold 25 degrees to start the day, then maybe a high in the mid 40’s if we are lucky. There will be sun but a nice northerly breeze to accompany it, so be prepared.  Hand warmers are a good idea. Have extra for your not-so-prepared guests. We will bring out our heaters and sides for the tent to block that wind and with any luck, we can keep it a warm 55 degrees or so in the tent. In years past, we kept it warm enough to force most to lose their coats for a bit which really helps the coat feel so much warmer when it is time to put it on for the game.

This is our second 11 a.m. start on the home schedule this season. We will repeat a lot of what we did for the first game. With the cold start, we will have hot chocolate, hot coffee and hot apple cider on hand. We like to accomplish that with a crock pot for the cider and the hot chocolate and an actual coffee maker to keep it fresh and hot. Several breakfast casseroles are going to be whipped up as well with the usual nuggets, donuts and bacon. Casey is also whipping up some skewers for the Bloody Mary bar and we will have our usual assortment of drinks behind the bar.

Here are a few tips for this short game day and the cold. I’ve found over time that you will go through far less beer, soft drinks and water than usual. Be sure to have those items, but perhaps half at most of what would be normal. Most folks will want to eat to combat the cold and because breakfast foods are generally extra tasty. In direct correlation to the above, you will need less ice and fewer coolers. I usually put cokes, water and beer in the same cooler if it’s large enough. Of course, your head count can affect that as well, so do what your gut tells you.

Lastly, when it’s cold few people sit down, so you might be able to load fewer chairs. Finally, breakfast games require you to buy insulated cups for the hot drinks, sweetener and cream for the coffee, and other alcohol options for your guest to doctor up that coffee, cider or hot chocolate if they want. Fireball, Bailey’s, Jameson, and peppermint schnapps make nice options for that.

Don’t forget that traffic will shut down at 7 a.m. sharp around campus. Leave home earlier than normal. Although the team’s record and the recent loss have dampened enthusiasm, there will still be 65,000 fans trying to get parked and in the stands at the same time. Leave earlier than you normally do to keep from missing kick off.

Go Hogs, Beat Tigers!

Editor’s note: Now in its 11th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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