Some SEC football fans may be frustrated by the rule that limits conferences to just two representatives in BCS bowls but the Chick-fil-A Bowl is among the post-season games that will reap the benefits.
SEC power LSU will face Clemson in the Dec. 31 game at the Georgia Dome. LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC) finished second to Alabama in the SEC West but the Crimson Tide and Florida filled two BCS slots for the league.
LSU finished No. 9 in the final AP poll and No. 8 in the BCS standings and Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) is ranked No. 14 in both.
“We’re about as excited as you can be to have two 10-win teams for the first time in our history with a Clemson-LSU match-up,” said Gary Stokan, the Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. “These teams are two of the top teams in the country and create one of the best bowl game match-ups of the post season.”
LSU is 5-0 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, including four victories when the game was known as the Peach Bowl. LSU defeated Clemson 10-7 in the 1996 game and last played in the bowl in 2008, when it beat Georgia Tech 38-3.
“[Atlanta] is a great city that has been very good to LSU,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I’m sure that we’ll travel extremely well. The Georgia Dome is an outstanding venue and we are excited about the opportunity to play in the Chick-fil-A bowl.”
Clemson (10-2, 7-1) finished second to Florida State (11-2, 7-1) in the ACC Atlantic division with a head-to-head defeat to the Seminoles. The Tigers last played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2007, when they lost 23-20 to Auburn in overtime, and are 2-5 overall in the game.
LSU will be the highest-ranked team Clemson has faced in a bowl game since it defeated Tennessee in the 2003 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“I know the team will be very excited to play LSU,” Clemson center Dalton Freeman said. “If you want to be a consistently outstanding program you have to play national championship contenders like LSU.”
LSU lost to Florida and Alabama this season but finished higher in the final BCS standings than four teams that will play in BCS bowl games: Florida State (No. 12), Northern Illinois (15), Louisville (21) and Wisconsin (not ranked).
Florida State, Louisville and Wisconsin earned the automatic BCS bids for the ACC, Big East and Big Ten, respectively. Northern Illinois, the MAC champion, earned an at-large BCS spot by finishing No. 15 in the final rankings and ahead of at least one team from an automatic qualifier conference.
The first Peach Bowl was in 1968. Since the game started matching SEC teams vs. ACC teams the conference’s representatives have won 10 games each.