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Leeman Bennett is a former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is the current chairman of the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s Team Selection Committee. He writes a weekly team selection blog to give fans an inside look into the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s team scouting and selection process.
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12/5/12 – #8 LSU vs. #14 Clemson, A BCS-type Bowl Game in Atlanta

Well, we made it through our selection process and we couldn’t be happier with the result.

We’ve got one of the top bowl match-ups of the post-season with the #8 LSU Tigers against the #14 Clemson Tigers. This is great stuff!

The fact of the matter is that this is an incredible game on a lot of different levels. The national media has weighed in and ranked this game as the 4th best bowl of the season, including all the BCS games.

Two 10-win national power teams whose only losses came to top-12 ranked teams. The irresistible force of the Clemson offense against the immoveable object that is the LSU defense. Tigers vs. Tigers. Whose fans will re-create “Death Valley” in the Dome? And it goes on, and on, and on …

Both of these teams are loaded with star power.

Clemson touts First-Team All American and All ACC quarterback and ACC Player of the Year Tajh Boyd and his 3,550 passing yards and 34 touchdowns along with All American and Remington finalist center Dalton Freeman. Clemson also boasts four other First Team All ACCers with wideout DeAndre Hopkins, tailback Andre Ellington, tight end Brandon Ford and tackle Brandon Thomas.

LSU counters with the nation’s 11th-ranked defense and a host of First-Team All SEC defensive standouts with Butkus finalist Kevin Minter (111 tackles), defensive end Sam Montgomery 7 sacks), and safety Eric Reid (81 tackles, 2 ints) that only gives up 16.9 points per game.

Both of these teams are playing for an important 11th win. A win would likely give LSU a top-5 final ranking and Clemson would likely finish in the top-10 with a victory. That’s a lot to play for when you talk about final rankings and positioning your team for making a run next season.

Both of these teams are very familiar with the national stage of playing in Atlanta. LSU played in the Georgia Dome in last year’s SEC Championship, while Clemson started this season with a win in our Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

And to make it even sweeter, these two teams have only met twice in their history. They first played in 1958 when LSU defeated Clemson 7-0 in the Sugar Bowl. The two Tigers did not play again until 1996 when they met in the Peach Bowl where LSU won again, this time 10-7. Both games were very tight, one-score games and we expect the same this year.

On all levels, a perfect bowl game. And let me tell you, we WANTED both these teams. And these two teams want to play each other. It’s a win for LSU a win for Clemson and a win for us!

In our Monday morning conference call with the teams, the head coaches summed it up best:

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney

“This is a great match-up versus one of the best teams in America. LSU is a team that less than a year ago played for the national championship and was just a few plays away for playing for it again this year. We’re excited about being in Atlanta and playing in a great venue.”

“The opportunity for an 11th win has not presented itself many times in our history here at Clemson. I truly believe this is a BCS bowl game here.”

LSU’s Les Miles

“This is a very competitive game in a big venue in Atlanta. It’s one of the marquee match-ups this season. An opportunity to win 11 games and play a great opponent, we’re looking forward to it.”

“I was told the Chick-fil-A Bowl positioned themselves very strongly for an LSU team. To be very honest with you, I want to go to the place that wants us and I personally enjoy the place the Chick-fil-A Bowl has arranged.”

So there you have it. Clemson’s coach and players are excited. LSU’s coaches and players are excited. And now we want to hear from the fans.

What gets you fired up about this game? Who is going to win and why? Who will be the better Tigers in the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve? Leave your comments below!

And remember to follow us on Twitter (@chickfilabowl) to stay up to date on Bowl activities all the way through the game. Lots of great pictures and news from behind the scenes during Bowl Week!

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  Comments

Tigers QB's
Created by Anonymous in 12/9/2012 8:18:13 PM
I think the game will be close, the final results will be determine by which tigers quarterback have the ball last. Boyd is very good an mobile an has quality receivers, while Mettenberger struggled all season an is not very mobile an over throws his receivers on the deep an intermediate routes. Boyd is the poor man version of RG3, while Mettenberger does not read defenses very well (look @ north texas, auburn, townson state, florida, mississipi, arkansas games, where Mettenberger was a statue in the pocket, with no pocket awarness an clueless in the red zone). I'm going with Boyd of clemson to win this bowl game, Clemson in a upset 20-7.
Geaux Tigers!
Created by Christie in 12/8/2012 12:51:26 PM
Thanks for the history lessons. BUT, which Death Valley is better?

Despite being 14–2 at Tiger Stadium, famed Alabama head coach Bear Bryant once remarked that "Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It's like being inside a drum."[7] In 2001, ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten said, "Death Valley in Baton Rouge is the loudest stadium I've ever been in."[8] In 2002, Miami (Ohio) coach Terry Hoeppner said of Tiger Stadium, "That's as exciting an environment as you can have ... we had communication problems we haven't had at Michigan and Ohio State."[8] In 2003, ESPN's Chris Fowler called LSU his favorite game day experience.[8] In 2009 former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stated on Sean Hannity's Fox News show that "Unfair is playing LSU on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge."

Survey after survey has concluded that Tiger Stadium is the most difficult place for a visiting team to play, including surveys by the College Football Association in 1987, The Sporting News in 1989, Gannett News Service in 1995, and Sport Magazine in 1998.[8] More recently, in 2007, ESPN named Tiger Stadium "the scariest place to play," saying that "Tiger Stadium is, by far, the loudest stadium in the country."[9]

In 2009, ESPN writer Chris Low listed Tiger Stadium's Saturday night atmosphere as unsurpassed in the country, ranking it No. 1 out of the conference's 12 stadiums.[10]

LSU prefers night games in Tiger Stadium with its opponents, but television coverage requires that many contests be played in the afternoons. The university is conflicted over maximizing its potential to win to needed advertising revenues from television coverage. As explained by Chet Hilburn in The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football, "The Tigers are apt to win more games at night in Tiger Stadium but the university takes in much m

"SEC football"
Created by Anonymous in 12/7/2012 3:26:43 PM
Just so we're clear, does that term include the half of the conference we'd score 50 on, or just the good teams?
LSU has 9 wins in the GA Dome!!
Created by DS in 12/5/2012 3:40:42 PM
GA DOME has been good to LSU.
4-0 in CFA Bowls, 4-1 in SEC Championships, and 1-0 in Kick-off Classics

GEAUX TIGERS!

Go Tigers!
Created by TigerFanClint in 12/5/2012 3:23:03 PM
Clemson fans have a lot of respect for LSU's program but there is a whole historical story on why Clemson's memorial stadium is called Death Valley. Im pretty sure LSU was just called Deaf Valley and people got confused. If there is a story other than that, I would love to read it. I have searched and not found anything. Looking forward to the game. Go Tigers.. the orange ones.
It's "Go Tigers"
Created by Jamie in 12/5/2012 3:22:24 PM
I just thought it'd be fun to point out the fact that Death Valley originated in a town called Clemson. It was easy to call the stadium that with the rock being brought there from Death Valley, California. Though LSU's stadium was constructed 20 years earlier than ours, it didn't get the similar nickname until after Clemson. LSU was being cheeky and in reference to Clemson, called their stadium "DEAF VALLEY." The name slowly just kept getting incorrectly pronounced and now LSU calls their stadium Death Valley. So yeah, LSU has Death Valley Jr. Get your facts straight. THE Death Valley is legitimately in Clemson, SC. Thanks for being your history lesson for the day. GO TIGERS... not GEAUX (this is America)
Geaux Tigers!
Created by Don in 12/5/2012 1:36:04 PM
There is only one true Tigers and there is only one true Death Valley and thats LSU. Were heading to Atlanta to show Clemson what SEC football is all about. Just like they got a taste of when South Carolina beat them up in their own stadium. Geaux Tigers!

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