BATON ROUGE, La. -- There's a popular t-shirt floating around Baton Rouge that says "There's Nobody in the Conference that has Swagga Like Us." with LSU in gold letters.
In postseason games, that was largely true...until last season.
When Alabama dominated the Tigers, 21-0 in the BCS National Championship Game, it not only ended LSU's dreams for one of the great seasons of the BCS era, it also put a damper to the notion that the Tigers, 5-1 in bowls under Les Miles, were at their best in postseason games.
That part of its swagger compromised, LSU will look to regain some of that reputation in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the site of two of the previous five Miles LSU bowl wins.
"Our football team really is anxious for a quality game. We’re looking for a bowl game that’s a great matchup, and certainly those Clemson Tigers are a very, very talented football team," Miles said.
The Tigers coach has certainly done a masterful job of motivating his teams for bowl games. In 2008, an LSU team that limped to the finish in the worst year of the Miles tenure gouged Georgia Tech at the Chick-fil-A. Miles' Tigers teams have maimed Miami at the Chick-fil-A, knocked out Notre Dame at the Sugar Bowl, tamed Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl and, of course, owned Ohio State in the 2008 BCS national championship game.
The one blemish in all that came in the 2009 season when LSU met Penn State on a field that was so muddy, it was nearly unplayable, and lost 19-17 in the Capital One Bowl, the only loss to a non-SEC team in Miles' eight years as head coach at LSU. That's what it seemed to take to beat LSU in the postseason, a freakishly muddy field that negated LSU's speed advantage and took away the edge the Tigers seemed to have when Miles had time to prepare.
But that was before Jan. 9, 2012, the day that changed everybody's perception about how Miles-coached LSU teams prepared in bowls. LSU was so inept on offense, it crossed midfield just once. The Tigers looked lethargic, over-matched and ill-prepared at the tail end of what some were calling the greatest regular season college football has seen.
With LSU facing a 10-2 Clemson team averaging 42 points a game, Les Miles will have a chance to prove that last year an anomaly. And maybe restore that swagger.