BATON ROUGE, La. -- While most SEC football programs are notorious homebodies, LSU is among the few willing to travel long distances to play midseason road games.
Even by LSU's standards, however, Saturday's game at Syracuse (Noon ET, ESPN) is noteworthy. Not only is it the longest road trip of the 2015 regular season for any SEC club, it's one of the longest trips in LSU football history.
"I think it's going to be fun for our guys," LSU coach Les Miles said. "They tell me that the weather's going to be good there, nice and cool, which will be fun, again, for our guys. And I haven't been to New York with an LSU team before. It'll be certainly an experience that we'll look forward to."
LSU last played in New York in 1942, when the Tigers beat Fordham 26-13 at the Polo Grounds. However, Miles has experience preparing teams for a lengthy trip.
Friday's 1,200-mile flight to Central New York is the fourth-longest trip for an LSU team in the past 50 years, and two of the others -- 2,031 miles to Seattle for the 2009 opener against Washington and 1,236 miles to Tempe, Arizona to face Arizona State in 2005 -- came on Miles' watch.
The key, Miles said, is to ensure the players are well-rested prior to Saturday's kickoff, which will come at noon Eastern, more than three hours earlier than any of LSU's previous start times this season. Miles regularly consults with sleep medicine doctor David Thomas and said he will follow Thomas' advice this week, much like he did when the Tigers traveled to Washington in 2009.
"The time issue is the whole key," Miles said. "In other words, refresh them, make sure that they have sleep issues taken care of and make sure that they're ready and alert early in the day to play. I consulted Dr. Thomas, who is our sleep consultant, and we're really kind of following his direction. I really feel confident that our guys will be prepared and well-rested and bright-eyed and ready to play."
Miles also adjusted the Tigers' schedule last week for an afternoon game against Auburn, tight end Colin Jeter said, because LSU's first two games both were set to kick off in the evening. The idea is to set players' sleep schedules in a manner that will ensure peak performance at game time.
"Your body gets in a rhythm as you sleep. So the time you go to bed, the time you wake up, and then based on that rhythm, you kind of peak at a certain time of the day," fullback John David Moore said. "So it's just kind of adjusting the hours that we'll sleep in order to maximize our performance based on the amount of sleep we get."
Defensive end Tashawn Bower recommended his teammates might as well start sleeping on their four-plus-hour flight north.
A native of Somerville, New Jersey, Bower regularly flies between Newark and Louisiana during football breaks, but many of his teammates have never traveled outside the South.
"I don't think there's many guys on the team that have been that far north," said Bower, who has visited Syracuse before. "I think a bunch of them expect that they're going to the city -- and they'll be disappointed."
Truthfully, the players wouldn't sightsee in the city no matter where they were playing. Their road-trip routine rarely changes, and it mostly revolves around traveling and putting the final touches on the game plan at the team hotel.
Nonetheless, most players enjoy traveling to new locales for games. For instance, LSU left tackle Jerald Hawkins said he looks forward to checking Syracuse's game-day atmosphere at the Carrier Dome.
"I love seeing the places, playing-wise. It doesn't matter if I see the city or not," Hawkins said. "Just the field-wise, the people, see how the atmosphere is, I just love seeing that in action."
If Miles has his way, Hawkins will also see the backs of his eyelids at an early hour on Friday. LSU's coach said the players' wake-up call will come at 8 a.m. on Saturday, four hours before kickoff, as advised by the Tigers' sleep doctor.
Whether they're playing in New York or Tiger Stadium, the goal is to be as physically and mentally prepared to compete as possible.
"We just know that he knows how to get our body just right," Jeter said, "so we trust him with a lot of stuff that we do."