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Amid another hurricane and all the COVID, at least there is LSU football

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Sep 26, 2020; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Myles Brennan (15) celebrates with wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) after a touchdown against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Why can't the hurricanes get COVID-19?

That would be fair. 

But 2020 continues to be unfair on so many levels.

LSU at Missouri: Video Preview from Faurot Field

Why does southwest Louisiana get two hurricanes in less than two months? First, Laura on Aug. 27. Now, Delta, which strengthened to a Category 3 on Thursday and is expected to hit Friday night.

LIVE UPDATES:Hurricane Delta's landfall track threatens area impacted by Laura

Sports just does not mean as much in this COVID year. It just doesn't seem like the NBA and Major League Baseball have been in the postseason. It's just different, less important.

But there is nevertheless still something very important about sports this year. At least, they can be a distraction.

This morning and into the early afternoon, thousands of people in Louisiana will likely not have power because of Delta. But if they have batteries for a radio or their car radio, they can listen to the No. 16 Tigers (1-1) play football at Missouri (0-2) at 11 a.m. on the LSU Radio Network.

At least they have that.

If they have power, the game will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate station. That's fitting programming, because 2020 has featured an alternate universe.

"We're worried about our families and making sure everything's OK outside of football," LSU safety JaCoby Stevens said.

All Stevens and LSU can do today is play for the citizens of a state, many of whom wish they could just get on a plane and fly far away from Laura, Delta, and COVID.

The game perhaps should not matter to suffering hurricane victims, but it will. It did in 2005 when LSU's home game against Arizona State was moved to Tempe, Arizona, on Sept. 10 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that ravaged New Orleans and surrounding areas on Aug. 29. LSU won, 35-31, on ESPN that night, and it helped people, if only for a few hours. 

The week leading up to that game, LSU coach Les Miles had to stop an interview with reporters after a practice because he couldn't hear himself. There were Chinook helicopters overhead that had just plucked Katrina survivors off roofs in New Orleans to be dropped off at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which had been turned into a field hospital.

"I remember the constant helicopter flight over top of the administration building, over the top of our stadium when we were in there scrimmaging, landing people from New Orleans on the (Bernie Moore) track to be in a triage unit in the PMAC,” Miles said at the time. "I just want you to know that there’s no way that I or our team could’ve anticipated all that."

Today, Les Miles has COVID-19. His Kansas team is open this weekend, and Miles will be monitoring practice remotely next week with hopes of coaching in the Jayhawks' next game at West Virginia on Oct. 17.

Who could have anticipated 2020?

LSU-MIZZOU:How to watch No. 16 LSU vs. Missouri, live stream plus game time

Here are five items to watch in today's LSU-Missouri game while you're praying for everyone who can't watch.

LSU running back John Emery Jr. (4) rushes through the Vanderbilt defense during the first quarter at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

1. LSU RUNNING GAME: LSU sophomore tailback John Emery Jr. may have taken over the position last week at Vanderbilt as he gained a career-high 103 yards. It was just one game, but he looked the Tigers' most versatile and valuable back. Fumbling in practice kept him from more action last season. If he continues to avoid that, you will see a lot of him.

2. LSU QUARTERBACK MYLES BRENNAN: Two games, 682 yards, seven touchdowns. No, the competition has not been great, but those are still very impressive numbers. And it looks like Brennan will continue to improve.

SCOUTING REPORT:A look at Missouri's offense

3. FRESH QUARTERBACK: LSU's defense gets to break in its second freshman quarterback in two weeks as Missouri will start redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak for  the first time after he beat out junior Shawn Robinson. The Tigers already have sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times this season. Look for more.

4. JACOBY STEVENS: LSU's senior safety leads the team in tackles with 17, in sacks with two, in fumble recoveries with two, and in forced fumbles with one. 

5. LSU OFFENSIVE LINE: Redshirt freshman left guard Charles Turner of Canton, Ohio, will start his first college game if regular starting left guard Ed Ingram can't go because of an injury. Sophomore Cameron Wire will start his second game at left tackle if starting let tackle Dare Rosenthal misses his second straight game with an injury.

PREDICTION: LSU 38, Missouri 13:The Tigers are 20-point favorites and will run away with this game early behind Emery and Brennan. With it being moved from Baton Rouge to Columbia because of Hurricane Delta, the Tigers now have three straight, true road games for the first time since 1957. But the first two — Vanderbilt and Missouri — are in the second division, if not third, of the SEC.

We'll truly see what kind of LSU has on the next road trip — at No 3 Florida next Saturday.