Locals packing up to see favorites on football fields

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Patty Mekus and her 8-year-old son, Nick, display some of their LSU memorabilia Tuesday. Unable to get tickets for the Sugan Bowl, Mekus and her husband, Mike, will settle for cooking out with an LSU brand Mekus holds out that seers the meat with their favorite letters.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[12/30/03]Dr. Ed Evans has not missed a home LSU football game in as long as he can remember, so he’s certainly not planning on missing Sunday’s clash in the Superdome when the Tigers vie for the national championship.

Evans, retired from his dental practice in Vicksburg, will be among the 77,000 fans crammed in to see in person whether the Oklahoma Sooners or the Tigers from Baton Rouge will win the National Collegiate Athletic Association title.

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“I was the football manager in 1941, and I have been a diehard Tiger fan ever since,” said Evans, a season ticket holder and contributor to the LSU football booster club. Evans, who moved to Tallulah about eight years ago, will be among many from Warren County traveling to watch bowl games.

In addition to LSU’s Sugar Bowl game, both Southern Miss and Ole Miss will play in bowl games this week.

Southern Miss will meet the University of Utah in the Liberty Bowl on Wednesday at 1 p.m. The game will be played in Memphis and broadcast on ESPN.

“I would have traveled to any one of the five bowls we had a chance of going to, except the Hawaii Bowl,” said Don Taylor, a 1970 graduate of USM who has not missed an Eagles’ home game since 1986. “To go to Hawaii, I’d have to withdraw my daughter from school,” he added with a chuckle.

Southern Miss, the Conference USA champs, will be making its third appearance in the Liberty Bowl, having won the 1997 and 1999 games.

On Friday afternoon, the Ole Miss Rebels will play Oklahoma State in one of America’s older bowls. The first Cotton Bowl was played in 1937, and this year will mark the 68th straight year for the bowl.

The Rebels will be making their first appearance in the Dallas event since a 1962 loss to Texas. The Rebels beat Texas Christian University in their only other Cotton Bowl appearance, in 1956.

The Cotton Bowl sold out soon after tickets became available mainly due to the allure of Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning. The senior finished third for the Heisman Trophy and has laid claim to several postseason honors.

“I think a lot of people are going to see Eli’s last game (at Ole Miss),” said Fred Peyton, an Ole Miss grad and season ticket holder whose daughter attends Ole Miss. “… I think it will be a high-scoring game.”

Several local LSU supporters said they would have liked to have gone to New Orleans, but high ticket prices kept them home.

The game has been long sold out, but tickets on the Internet auction site eBay range from $1,000 to $2,500 for a pair.

“The tickets were way too expensive,” said Patty Mekus, a Tiger supporter who said she’ll have friends over to watch the game on TV instead. “It’s ridiculous; that’s Christmas right there.”