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LSU to play Clemson in Chick-fil-A Bowl

Last Modified: Sunday, December 02, 2012 10:00 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

LSU’s original plan was to be in Atlanta for the first day of December and the SEC Championship game.

That did not work out.

Instead, the Tigers (10-2) will now spend the final day of December in the city’s Georgia Dome playing Clemson on New Year’s Eve in the Chick-fil-A bowl.

LSU had hoped for more and LSU head coach Les Miles was not available for comment Sunday night.

But he did say, through a release by the school, that “We look forward to a great matchup and a competitive game.”

It must have been a hectic day, with four two-loss SEC teams jockeying for position for the top four non-BCS bowls with which the conference has tie-ins.

Alabama of course, will play for the BCS national championship against Notre Dame. Florida (11-1), the only remaining one-loss SEC team, was guaranteed a BCS berth after finishing third in the final BCS standings and will play in the Sugar Bowl against Big East champion Louisville.

The rest of it apparently was a free-for-all, and, on paper, LSU did not fare well in the backroom bargaining.

The Chick-fil-A picks fourth after the Capital One, Outback and Cotton Bowls. They had the Nos. 7-10 teams in the final BCS standings to choose from — Georgia (7), LSU (8), Texas A&M (9) and South Carolina (10).

Georgia (11-2), which lost a heartbreaker Saturday to Alabama for a chance to play in the BCS national championship game, will go to Orlando, Fla., for the Capital One Bowl.

The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., which usually picks a team from the SEC East unless Auburn or Alabama are available, took South Carolina to play Michigan.

For much of the weekend, it appeared that LSU was headed to the Cotton Bowl — even well into Sunday afternoon. Even Sunday night Kirk Herbstreit on ESPN’s selection show had LSU and Oklahoma helmets facing each other behind him.

But, the Dallas-based bowl eventually selected Texas A&M and its top Heisman candidate quarterback Johnny Manziel to play Oklahoma.

Thus, LSU was passed over for two teams — South Carolina and Texas A&M — that the Tigers beat this season and finished ahead of in the BCS rankings. LSU did not play Georgia.

LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry said, via his Twitter account that “Right now what bowl game we play in doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we keep a winning tradition.”

The Tigers did fare much better than Louisiana Tech, which has the nation’s leading offense and a 9-3 record.

But after reportedly turning down an invitation from the Independence Bowl on Saturday, Louisiana Tech was left waiting at the alter when the bowls were filled out Sunday.

An Independence Bowl trip would have matched the Bulldogs against UL-Monroe, a school 30 miles down I-20 that Tech has resisted scheduling over the years.

The War Hawks will be making their first-ever bowl trip and now will play Ohio on Dec. 28.

On Saturday night, Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh would not confirm to the Monroe News Star that the school had declined the invitation from the Shreveport bowl.

“There’s some options available for us,” Walsh told the newspaper. “I don’t know if we declined it or not declined it. I know there are options out there. We are waiting for some things to play out first.”

Louisiana Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde told the Associated Press on Sunday that when offered the bid on Saturday, he asked for more time to explore other options. He said he was told by bowl officials that they couldn’t wait that long.

“We asked them for more time to vet two other opportunities that we we felt good about.”

One of Tech’s most famous alums, basketball star Karl Malone, tweeted that “I am heartbroken and embarrassed that our university would do this to Tech nation.”

Van De Velde told the AP that Louisiana Tech was victimized by Northern Illinois’ unexpected BCS berth in the Orange Bowl. That knocked Oklahoma out of a BCS bowl, he said, and started a chain reaction that left Big 12 teams being available for bowls Tech was hoping to be invited to. He was working, he said, to get into the Heart of Dallas Bowl or the Liberty Bowl.

Another state school, UL-Lafayette, last week accepted a bid for the R&L Carriers Bowl in New Orleans and will play East Carolina on Dec. 22.

LSU will be returning to a familiar spot.

The Tigers are 5-0 in what was originally called the Peach Bowl, including a 31-27 win over Florida State in the inaugural event back in 1967.

The Tigers most recently beat Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A on New Year’s Eve of 2008.

It’s also a venue the Tigers have found very much to their liking, as LSU is 9-1 all-time in the Georgia Dome. The only loss came to the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2005 SEC title game.

“We enjoy playing in Atlanta,” Miles, who will playing in the bowl for the third time, said in the school’s release. “It’s a great city that has been very good to LSU. I’m sure we’ll travel extremely well.”

In Miles’ previous two appearances the Tigers have outscored opponents 78-6 — Miami 40-3 and Georgia Tech 38-3.

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