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December 3, 2012

Going where you are wanted

Many statements have been made that if LSU would have been invited to the Cotton Bowl, it would have played a game in Cowboys Stadium for four consecutive seasons.

The Tigers defeated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl following the 2010 season and opened the 2011 campaign with a victory against Oregon in Arlington. LSU is scheduled to open the 2013 season against TCU at Cowboys Stadium.

Now, the Tigers are certainly hoping they will play a game in the Georgia Dome for four straight years. LSU opened the 2010 campaign by defeating North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. The Tigers won the 2011 Southeastern Conference title game against Georgia in Atlanta.

LSU will be taking on Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve to wrap up the 2012 season. The Tigers definitely have every intention of participating in the 2013 SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome on the first Saturday of December.

There has been much talk about the Tigers falling to the Chick-fil-A Bowl - fourth on the pecking order of non-BCS bowl games for SEC teams. Texas A&M and South Carolina, both of whom lost to LSU and both of whom finished behind LSU in the final BCS standings, are going to higher-rated bowl games.

The Aggies will be taking on Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, while the Gamecocks will be facing Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Those decisions left the Tigers to head to Atlanta to meet a 10-2 Clemson team.

"I have not given a lot of thought to (LSU's bowl placement)," said LSU coach Les Miles on the Chick-fil-A Bowl teleconference Monday morning. "(Chick-fil-A Bowl President ) Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Bowl positioned themselves very strongly for this LSU team. I want to go to a place where they want us."

There is no doubt that the LSU-Clemson matchup is one of the most attractive among the bowl games. The Chick-fil-A Bowl is one of just nine games which match two teams who finished in the top 25 of the BCS standings.

The LSU-Clemson game trails only three bowls - No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama in the national title game, No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. LSU is No. 8 and Clemson is No. 14 in the BCS standings.

"This bowl matchup is better than many of the BCS bowl matchups," LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said. "Conferences have contracts with the bowls. A pecking order of the bowls has been established. Ultimately, the bowls decide whom they pick. Conferences have little influence."

Stokan, whose Chick-fil-A Bowl is expected to be chosen as one of the six games to be in the semifinal rotation when the playoffs begin after the 2014 season, explained how difficult it is to assign teams to these games.

"The athletic director, the bowl representative and the conference all work together," Stokan said. "This was a unique year with six SEC team having ten wins. You want a win-win-win - a win for the school, a win for the bowl and a win for the conference."

Miles' LSU teams have enjoyed success in the Georgia Dome. His first Tigers team lost to Georgia in the 2005 SEC title game.

Since that defeat, LSU has won four consecutive games in Atlanta - Tennessee in the 2007 SEC title game, Georgia Tech in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl, North Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and Georgia in the 2011 SEC championship game.

"I told the players that Atlanta has special favor to them," Miles said. "This is one of the marquis matchups of the season. Our team is looking forward to playing in a great venue. We have the opportunity to win 11 games and play a great opponent."

Here are the nine bowl games in which both teams are in the top 25 of the final BCS standings.

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama in the national championship game at Miami
No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl
No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl
No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 16 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl
No. 3 Florida vs. No. 21 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl
No. 12 Florida State vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl
No. 10 South Carolina vs. No. 18 Michigan in the Outback Bowl
No. 13 Oregon State vs. No. 23 Texas in the Alamo Bowl


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