Primed For Atlanta

Make no mistake about it – the Clemson football team won't enter this year's bowl game with a non-chalant attitude. The No. 15 Tigers are excited as can be to be playing on New Year's Eve in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, where they'll face No. 22 Auburn.

In last season's Music City Bowl against Kentucky, Clemson players broke curfew and had nary an ounce of interest in being there, much in the same fashion as Tennessee acted against the Tigers in the Peach Bowl of the 2003 season.

That, however, won't be an issue this time around. There's plenty of motivation as the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the next best thing to playing in a BCS game, and Auburn, which finished second in the SEC Western Division and sports an 8-4 record, is annually pushing for a top 10 ranking.

"I definitely think (this bowl has more meaning that last year) because, first of all, we won before the (bowl) and we have some momentum going into this game," said Tigers receiver and Atlanta native Aaron Kelly. "It's not a bowl game we fell into, it's more of a game that we earned."

Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper, who grew up in the shadows of the Georgia Dome like Kelly, couldn't be more pumped for the opportunity to go against Auburn on a national stage.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be able to come back and play in the Georgia Dome, especially in this bowl game," Harper said. "I was there when Clemson played against Tennessee a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to it."

Clemson was allotted 17,500 tickets, while Auburn got 15,700 tickets. The bowl payout is $3.3 million and also issued a $100,000 scholarship for each school.

Meanwhile, as Clemson revels in the bowl selection, Boston College is the victim of its own success, yet again.

Despite playing for the ACC Championship this year, Boston College has to lick its wounds in the Champs Sports Bowl, where it will play against Michigan State.

"Certainly when you look at it from a bowl perspective, on-the-field is one of the critical factors to look at and national rankings," Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan said. "Obviously the records and TV rankings with two football brands in Clemson and Auburn is important. So, for those reasons we thought Clemson made a lot of sense for us.

"We're finding that with (conference) championship games, in some cases there may be some disappointments for people being really close to going to a BCS game and then losing. We're happy with our decision and (the ACC) is happy with our decision and we look forward to taking Boston College in the future."

The Tigers will begin practice Saturday and Harper is expected to be fully recovered from his arthroscopic surgery he had nearly a week ago on his throwing shoulder.

Harper said he will start with light throwing on Monday and should be full speed by the end of the week. He said his shoulder had some rotator cuff tendonitis and a small problem with his labrum, but that it's all "cleaned up" now.

"The shoulder is coming along good," he said. "It already feels better than it did after the South Carolina game." Top Stories