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Anticipation high as tailgating returns to LSU campus after year-long hiatus

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BATON ROUGE - Familiar sights once taken for granted, like fans finding the perfect spot to park their trailer and tents popping up by the dozen, were common around the LSU campus Friday.

All were signs of the return of a more normal gameday.

"It's riding a bike," Zach Rau said. "You might not do it for a while, but you never completely forget."

Rau and his fellow tailgaters marked their spot near the Indian Mounds around 4 p.m. Friday. The slow trickle of fans appeared to speed up about an hour later.

From the heavy lifting, to arguably the most important job of making sure ice chests full of beer are cold, Rau is thrilled to be back.

"It's nice to have something to look forward to," Rau said. "That's kind of been the hard part of this whole situation."

That enthusiasm radiated all the way to the RV lots beyond Tiger Stadium.

"We're excited," Shannon O'Quain said. "Especially after last year, after being canceled, we couldn't wait to get here."

O'Quain and his crew arrived from Lake Charles around noon Friday but not to cheer on the hometown McNeese State Cowboys. Even the disappointment of last week's season-opening loss to UCLA couldn't curb his excitement for a stadium packed with purple and gold.

"Sure, it's not the ideal situation," O'Quain said. "[It] would be a lot more fun if we could have won. It'd be a little more exciting to be 2-0, but you know, everything's still ahead of the team. They can still do everything that they need to do."

To a certain extent, tomorrow's game is about more than a win or loss. The welcome return of a time-honored tradition is fueling some fans' eagerness for Saturday.

Once the cooking and enjoyment of a few libations wrap up, Rau is expecting a familiar flood of emotions to return once he and 100,000 others settle inside Tiger Stadium.

"I'm gonna feel chills just because it's been a long time coming," Rau said. "I might tear up a little bit. I don't know. We'll see. I'm pretty excited to see it. I haven't smiled this much in a long time."

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