It’s hard to imagine any battle going down in the animal kingdom being more intense than two tigers going head to head, and this postseason it’s just as difficult to think of a game destined to be more fierce and competitive than the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The eyes of the nation will be focused on Atlanta, Georgia come New Year’s Eve for a matchup fitting to cap off the year, as the SEC and ACC representatives for the 45th annual showdown are none other than the No. 8 LSU Tigers and No. 14 Clemson Tigers. And with over 71,000 pumped-up fans inside the Georgia Dome intensifying the moment and inspiring both squads with their foundation-shaking cheers, the atmosphere for this one is bound to be something special.
The closer you look the more phenomenal the matchup becomes. As their impressive 10-2 records attest to, LSU and Clemson have played at an elite level all season long, but the losses shade just how sensational both have been. LSU’s two losses came by a total of only 12 points to then-10th ranked Florida and then-1st ranked Alabama, while Clemson’s losses were by a total of 22 points to then-4th ranked Florida State and then-11th ranked South Carolina. Clemson has won seven of their last eight games and can win eleven overall for only the fourth time in school history. On the other sideline, LSU has won five of their last six and can reach eleven wins for only the seventh time, so there won’t be a Tiger on the field uninspired to play their hearts out in the final game of the season.
Surprisingly, LSU and Clemson have only met twice before, and both of their previous meetings happened to be in bowl games. LSU won the Sugar Bowl back in 1958, and LSU also won Tigers versus Tigers: Round 2 in the 1996 Chick-fil-A Bowl. As a matter of fact, LSU is flawless Chick-fil-A Bowls, winning the inaugural Peach Bowl in 1968 and the 2008 edition over Georgia Tech. Clemson is well-seasoned with seven Chick-fil-A Bowls under their belt, but their record isn’t as lustrous. They're 2-5 overall, and lost to Auburn in 2007 their last time competing, but they did claim a 21-14 victory over Tennessee back in 2004. This year, Clemson has plenty of motivation to dethrone LSU as top Tigers, and and they certainly have the personnel to pull it off.
Clemson is a national powerhouse on offense with standout quarterback Tajh Boyd leading a sixth-ranked unit that’s notches a monstrous 42.3 points per game. Boyd, a season-long Heisman candidate, threw a gargantuan 3,550 passing yards and 34 touchdowns, but LSU’s brick wall of a defense will be a challenge. In giving up a mere 16.9 points per game, LSU ranks 11th in the country, and their smothering D helped them trounce top-ranked SEC teams like No. 3 South Carolina, No. 18 Texas A&M, and No. 21 Mississippi State. It’ll certainly be thrilling to see these opposing forces wage for supremacy, and we’ve got plenty of Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets to get you in the stands. Kickoff is set for New Year’s Eve, December 31st at 7:30 p.m. ET, so get your tickets now and see it live.