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Big crowd expected for Saturday's tilt with LSU

SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Quarterback Nic Costa (right) celebrates after Costa's touchdown run during the UA's 42-7 win over UTEP. The Wildcats hope to be lifted by a high fan turnout Saturday night against Louisiana State.
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 4, 2003

Cats look to duplicate last week's win with favored Tigers in town

As the Wildcats jump-started another hopeful season, the team still had some sketchy areas ¸ and with a loose quarterback slot, their leading rusher hurt with a shoulder injury and a bad preseason ranking, the last thing the team wanted to worry about was a lack of support from its fans.

That, however, wasn't even an issue Saturday, as Arizona trounced Texas El-Paso, 42-7, in front of the best student turnout in recent memory.

"(The student section) was pretty loud," sophomore quarterback Nic Costa said. "The students seemed to be there and (seemed) really enthusiastic and supportive."

With a Labor Day weekend crowd of 40,264 ¸ about 6,000 were students ¸ the Wildcats got just what they wanted to begin the year.

"The student section was the fullest it's been in the past decade," said Theresa Nassif, the Arizona Athletics Corporate Sales representative. "We were pretty busy Saturday night."

The team should expect another huge crowd as the No. 13 Louisiana State Tigers come to the Old Pueblo is search of win number two after a beating of Louisiana-Monroe last week.

"We always like to see our classmates out here heckling the other team," Costa said. "With LSU (this week), people that didn't come out (against UTEP) should because it's going to be rocking and rolling Saturday night."

Another incentive to be at Arizona Stadium this weekend lies with one of the UA's four losses last year in men's basketball.

An unranked LSU hoops team upset the top-ranked Cats at home last December. The Wildcat football team hopes to come close to duplicating that feat Saturday.

"(Everyone) should come this week," Costa said. "Go out and buy a Zona Zoo pass because (if you don't), you're going to miss a show."

It shouldn't hurt that the game is going to be national televised on TBS and will start at 7 p.m., even if it does happen to match the 94-degree game-time temperature of last week.

Head coach John Mackovic believes another turnout like last week could do nothing but help the Wildcats notch a huge upset ¸ and their second win of the season.

"A loud, noisy crowd will not be something new to (the players)," Mackovic said. "A crowd on our side that is really there cheering will have a great impact on our football team."

Costa said he expects a large crowd as well, citing the Wildcats' impressive showing against the Miners. He did mention that it won't be all cardinal and navy packing the bleachers, with LSU being known to send a large contingent of fans to road games.

"I would imagine that the game against LSU will be packed," Costa said. "They travel well, being an SEC team, and our fans will be like, ╬Okay, maybe these guys can play a little bit.'"

"I was really impressed with the turnout of the first game," said running back Michael Bell, who ran for 119 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries last week. "(To beat LSU), we're going to have to play as a team and eliminate mistakes."

Following last weekend's win, senior wide receiver Lance Relford summed up the mood from the locker room best when asked what the fans should expect from the Wildcats against the Tigers.

"I never expect anything less than a win," he said.

Charles Renning, Christopher Wuensch and Brett Fera contributed to this report.

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