LSU becoming a regular visitor in Atlanta

For the third time in five years, the LSU Tigers will represent the SEC Western Division in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

The Tigers (10-1, 7-1 in SEC) are set to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, champions of the SEC East, in Saturday's league title game in the GeorgiaDome.


"That was our goal before the season," said LSU senior center Rudy Niswanger on winning the west. "That was something we want to do for ourselves and for our new coach.  Today was one of the places we had to get by to get there.  It wasn't pretty, but some times games in the SEC aren't pretty.  We came out and one and now we have a big one next week."


The Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1) clinched the eastern division title two weeks ago with a win over Kentucky. The Tigers wrapped up the divisional title by defeating Arkansas 19-17 on the day after Thanksgiving.


"It feels good," said LSU coach Les Miles. "We're the (SEC) Western Division Champions, and with our accomplishment we get another opponent. We get another SEC opponent, and we look forward to that. I think our team can focus fully on a game plan."


Saturday's title game will be a rematch of the 2003 championship game, in which LSU dismantled the Bulldogs 34-13 to advance to the national title game.


"It's going to be a fight, a dog fight most definitely," said LSU cornerback Ronnie Prude. "Going to Georgia especially after last year. It's a little payback, but it's all fun, we're going to go up there, one game at a time and take care of business."


The SEC Championship Game is in its 15th year of existence with the game being formed when the league went to two divisions in 1992.


Alabama and Florida dominated the game in the early years with the Crimson Tide won the inaugural game in 1992. Florida won four in a row until Tennessee won back to back titles in 1997 and 1998. Alabama won again in 1999 and Florida in 2000 before LSU made its first trip to the big game in 2001. Georgia wore the crown in 2002 before LSU revisited the brass ring again in 2003. Auburn toppled Tennessee a year ago to win its first title game.


Ole Miss is the only team in the SEC Western Division to never have appeared in the title game. The Rebels came closest in 2003, but was nudged aside by LSU.


South Carolina, Vanderbilt nor Kentucky have made it to the title game from the SEC East. Tennessee, Florida and Georgia have dominated the series throughout.


In 2001, upstart LSU made it to the championship game despite a 5-3 record in the SEC West. The Tigers rallied from a 4-3 record to win its final four SEC games to make it to Atlanta.


With Tennessee needing only one win to qualify for the Rose Bowl and a national title date with Miami, the Tigers outscored the Volunteers 24-3 in the second half to win 31-20.


Backup quarterback Matt Mauck entered the game for an injured Rohan Davey and accounted for two touchdowns as the Tigers stunned No. 2 Tennessee, a team which already owned a 26-18 win over LSU in the regular season.


Two years later, LSU revisited the big game to face Georgia. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 17-10 earlier in the year in Baton Rouge and Georgia smelled blood in the water. However, LSU played like a team on a mission as the Tigers roared passed Georgia 34-13 leaving a very partisan Georgia crowd with little to cheer about.

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