Chatter of the Tigers possibly filling the Southeastern Conference’s spot in the Capital One Bowl had existed for weeks, but the LSU football team did not receive an official word until Sunday evening.
Sitting at the head of the table and surrounded by a field of media reporters, coach Les Miles and athletic director Joe Alleva took the invitation call from the Capital One Bowl representatives over speaker phone, where both parties expressed their shared interest in being a part of the New Year’s Day event.
“We wanted a quality opponent, and anytime the Big Ten and SEC get together, it will be an exciting game,” Miles said.
“For our football team, ten wins is great,” he added. “We take this seriously, the idea of a Capital One Bowl matchup with a championship at stake. It is a great challenge, and our team is very excited.”
Miles, who has notched bowl wins in all four of his seasons with the Tiger program, said that he would look to keep the streak alive through strong preparation over the next couple of weeks.
“I don’t know if there are any secrets [to the success],” Miles said. “Every bowl season is different. Our guys seem to be focused, and they have done a great job in preparing for a single opponent.
“There are 15 practices in the spring, and you can get another spring in as you prepare for the bowl game. It evolves your team. There are practices where your quarterback gets a little better, and others where the whole side sees improvement.”
The Tigers last trip to Orlando was in 2004, where they fell at the hands of Iowa on a last-second Hail Mary. Penn State’s last visit to the Capital One Bowl came two seasons prior, where they were defeated 13-9 by Auburn.
Up against a Nittany Lions side whose only two losses came at the hands of teams that landed in BCS bowls (Iowa, Ohio State), Miles said that his team is well aware of the tall task that lies ahead.
“[Joe] Paterno is one of the greatest coaches of all time,” he said. “What an honor it is to be matched up against him.”