Bowl matchups: LSU headed to Atlanta to face Clemson

Published 12:22am Monday, December 3, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) — The Chick-fil-A Bowl will be Tigers vs. Tigers.

Bowl officials announced Sunday night that No. 9 LSU will face No. 14 Clemson in the Dec. 31 game at the Georgia Dome. Both teams are known as the Tigers, and both play in the stadiums that are known as “Death Valley.”

Despite the similarities, the Southern powers have met only twice before.

Their third meeting will feature one of the nation’s best offenses (Clemson) against one of the leading defenses (LSU).

“That is awesome,” said Clemson center Dalton Freeman, who will make his 49th and final career start in the Atlanta bowl. “If you want to be a consistently outstanding program, you have to play national championship contenders like LSU. They have won the national championship in recent years and always seem to be in the mix for the championship. They have outstanding players and it will be a great challenge, but a great opportunity for us.”

LSU (10-2) was selected after a day of frenzied speculation on how the Southeastern Conference bowl hierarchy would shake out. Clemson (10-2) was a lock to be the Atlantic Coast Conference representative after Florida State won the league championship the previous night, beating Georgia Tech 21-15.

LSU has won its five previous appearances in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, most recently a 38-3 rout over Georgia Tech in 2008.

“We enjoy playing in Atlanta,” coach Les Miles said. “It’s a great city that has been very good to LSU. I’m sure that we’ll travel extremely well.”

Mississippi State selected for Gator Bowl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Gator Bowl ended up with a less-than-marquee matchup thanks to the success of the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA sanctions surrounding two Big Ten programs.

The New Year’s Day bowl in Jacksonville landed Northwestern and Mississippi State, two teams with little or no national prominence.

The Wildcats (9-3) and Bulldogs (8-4) accepted invitations Sunday, leaving the New Year’s Day bowl game in Jacksonville faced with the challenge of selling tickets and generating a television audience.

Florida and Ohio State headlined the Gator Bowl last year, a matchup that featured Urban Meyer’s former team against his future team.

This time, the bowl wasn’t nearly as fortunate.

Sure, Northwestern is playing on New Year’s Day for the third time in four years. But the Wildcats aren’t known for filling stadiums or bringing buzz. The Gator Bowl would have been in much better shape had Big Ten powers Ohio State (12-0) and Penn State (8-4) been bowl eligible. And Wisconsin upsetting Nebraska in the Big Ten title game shuffled the bowl lineup, too.

“A lot of things changed last night,” Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said.

Ole Miss headed to BBVA Compass Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Pittsburgh is making its third straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl, facing a resurgent Mississippi team.

The Panthers and Rebels will meet on Jan. 5 in a matchup of 6-6 Big East and Southeastern Conference teams which are led by first-year coaches.

Pitt became bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season with Saturday’s 27-3 rout of South Florida, rebounding after losing its first two games to Youngstown State and Cincinnati.

Paul Chryst’s Panthers also took No. 1 Notre Dame to triple overtime before losing.