From the fifth floor of LSU’s Athletic Department Building, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva accepted the invitation of Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan. The invitation will mark LSU’s fifth overall trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl), its third trip this decade.
The Tigers’ opposition will be No. 14 Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3) which is coming off a dramatic 45-42 win against arch-rival Georgia and boasts the nation’s No. 3 rushing offense behind the triple option offense of first-year coach Paul Johnson
“On behalf of LSU I want to accept the invitation and tell you how excited we are,” Alleva said. “I’m very familiar with Georgia Tech and their coach Paul Johnson has done a remarkable job there. This will be a great challenge for our team, one that I think Coach Miles and our players will be very excited to play and will give tremendous effort and represent the state of Louisiana to the fullest.”
The game parallels the situation LSU found itself in following the 2005 season. Coming off a heartbreaking loss in the SEC championship game, the Tigers were invited to Atlanta to play No. 10 Miami. This time around, the Tigers must prepare for the triple option following a regular season that ended with a 1-3 record and a two-game losing streak.
“It reminds me of 2005 when LSU lost here in the SEC championship game,” Stokan said. “I flew down to tell Les [Miles] that we were going to invite them. Les just about ripped my arm out of my socket. He was just so excited his team would have a chance to play against top competition.”
Despite that, Alleva said the timing of the Chick-fil-A Bowl makes it an ideal place for the Tigers to land following a disappointing season.
“Obviously, it was a tough way to end the season, but this is an outstanding bowl to go to,” Alleva said. “It will be on national television on New Year’s Eve. It has no competition for air time so a lot of America will be watching the game. It’s a tough matchup; Georgia Tech is a tough team – they had over 400 yards rushing against Georgia. I think it’s going to be a really outstanding game, but I feel really confident that our team is going to step up and play really well and be really motivated to play this game.”
LSU coach Les Miles was on a flight to California and could not be reached for comment. However, several members of the Tigers’ senior class offered their thoughts on the contest.
“If we can put our focus on Georgia Tech, I think we can go out with a win,” said senior linebacker Darry Beckwith. “It’s a great feeling any time you get to go to a bowl game. We just want to go out and perform well.”
Senior defensive end Tyson Jackson said the team had heard from the rumor mill the Tigers may be heading to Atlanta.
“There was a lot of speculation and a lot of rumors we’d be going to the Chick-fil-A Bowl,” he said. “A lot of guys wanted to go there and have a good time with it being in Atlanta. It’s a great atmosphere and it’s time to get busy preparing.”