Twice as Sweet! LSU to Face Ohio St. in BCS Title Game

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BATON ROUGE -- Fresh off an SEC Championship game victory, the LSU football team knew it was going to New Orleans for a January bowl game. But, few thought the stars would re-align and the Tigers would face off with Ohio State for the Bowl Championship Series National Championship on Jan. 7.

After beating Tennessee, No. 7-ranked LSU looked forward to possibly facing undefeated Hawai'i in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

However, key upsets of No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia while the Tigers were at 35,000 feet en route to Baton Rouge from Atlanta Saturday night sent the Delta charter flight into a frenzy, as the team found they may have a shot at the title despite two triple-overtimes losses in the regular season.

Two of the other five teams ahead of LSU in the BCS standings didn't win their conference's division -- Kansas and Georgia -- while LSU beat another by 41 -- Virginia Tech. The pollsters and computers thought the Tigers' resume was too good to miss out on the BCS National Championship Game.

“I would like to thank the voters and those people who are responsible for allowing us to play in this great game,” LSU coach Les Miles said on Sunday after the bowl pairings were announced. “We are humbled by the selection. We will honor that game with our finest effort.”

The unlikely scenario that put the Tigers into the BCS title game couldn’t have been possible had LSU, which was playing without its starting quarterback in Matt Flynn and All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, not rallied for the win over Tennessee. Against the Vols, LSU defensive back Jonathan Zenon returned an interception 18-yards midway through the fourth quarter to lift the Tigers to the victory.

“How it unfolded certainly could not have been scripted,” Miles said. “We had a very difficult game against Arkansas last week. We then go to the SEC Championship Game and fight and scrape to win the conference.  Low and behold, No. 1 and No. 2 fall and it becomes a very talented LSU team that is voted into the game. We are excited and honored to have the opportunity. We will play a great Ohio State team that is very talented and well coached.” 

LSU (10-2), which was ranked No. 1 twice during the season, was ranked No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series standings released live on FOX Sunday evening. The Tigers were ranked No. 2 in preseason polls.

Ohio State (11-1), champions of the Big Ten, haven't played since defeating Michigan on Nov. 17. However, the Buckeyes watched as four teams ahead of them in the Nov. 18 polls -- LSU, Kansas, West Virginia and Missouri -- each lost over the next two weeks.

LSU's computer average was No. 2, while it's BCS average was .9394. Ohio State's was .9588. Virginia Tech finished third in the BCS (.8703), Oklahoma was fourth (.8572) and Georgia rounded out the Top 5 (.8392).

The Tigers and Buckeyes have met twice on the gridiron, first with a 13-13 tie in 1987 in Baton Rouge before Ohio State won 36-33 in Columbus in 1988.

It will mark LSU’s second appearance in the BCS Championship Game as the Tigers beat Oklahoma 21-14 to claim the BCS title in 2003. The game against Oklahoma was also played in the Louisiana Superdome.

LSU is also making an appearance in a BCS bowl game for the second straight year and the fourth time overall. 

LSU's other national championship in football came in 1958.

TICKETS SOLD OUT

LSU season ticket holders requested more than 60,000 tickets to the BCS National Championship game this year. The school's 16,000-ticket allotment will mostly be distributed by LSU Priority Points.

E-mail notification from the LSU Athletics Tickets Office to fans as to how many -- if any -- tickets they will receive will be sent on Monday, Dec. 10. LSU is no longer taking ticket requests for the bowl game, and there will be no sales to the general public.

Bowl Championship Series Games

Sugar Bowl
Hawai'i vs. Georgia

Rose Bowl
USC vs. Illinois

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

BCS Championship Game
LSU vs. Ohio St.

COMMENTS FROM LSU COACH LES MILES ON BEING SELECTED TO PLAY IN NATIONAL TITLE GAME

Opening statement...
“I would like to thank the voters and those people who are responsible for allowing us to play in this great game. We are humble by the selection. We will honor that game with our finest effort.”

“How it unfolded certainly could not have been scripted. We had a very difficult Saturday (last week) against Arkansas. We go to the (SEC) championship game and fight and scrape to win the conference.  Low and behold, No. 1 and No. 2 fall and it becomes a very talented LSU team that is voted into the game. We are excited and honored to have the opportunity. We will play a great Ohio State team that is very talented and well coached.” 

On how dramatic this college football season has been...
“I think this is great college football. From the beginning to the end, every week there was a story and a game where injury was at risk and teams had to overcome. Teams overcame adversity, exhaustion, fatigue and pain and still played well enough to win. I think it is the greatest game in America. When you get to the back end of it, next year could have a three or four lost team (in the BCS championship.) I can’t predict.”

On if it is any extra incentive facing Ohio State being a  Michigan alum...
“This game is not about my past and tradition as much as it is about a quality football team qualifying for the national championship. It just so happens that I am very familiar with the coaches there. There can’t be any greater preparation than there is for the national championship anyway. It wouldn’t matter if we were playing the Cleveland Browns, which is the team I watched season after season as a young boy.”

On Bo Pelini being named the head coach at Nebraska and his status for the BCS National Championship... 
“I think Bo will coach in the game. We talked about it on the plane ride home. The one thing about new jobs is that there is a lot to do but there is also down time in that dead period where you can not recruit. The ability to be in a championship game and preparation for the national championship would do Bo and Nebraska some good. He is part of our team. He has been with us from the start. Our players and coaches enjoy him. We would want to give him that opportunity.”

On winning the SEC Championship...
“We have won the western division twice and this is the first time we have won the conference in my tenure and one of 10 for the school. The accomplishment is a rare one and this team is deserving of that honor.”

On playing another BCS game in New Orleans...
“A year ago, I did not realize it as much until I drove down and saw the dome. It was the first time the Sugar Bowl was back in New Orleans and it just so happened it was LSU who represented the conference in that game. It was a tremendously honored feeling. There were so many that supported us and came up to us to share stories of Katrina. I think that our team, and certainly I did, grew a stronger attachment to New Orleans not just with the game but with the week and the time that we spent down there. I look forward to spending similar time down there. I know that our guys could not have picked a better outcome for us. We suspect that we will be very comfortable in those surroundings. We have played in that dome this year (against Tulane) and we suspect there will be a large number of our supporters inside that dome making as much noise as they can.”

On how having a month before the game will help with the injuries on the team... 
“We will have a healthier quarterback situation; first of all our second-team quarterback played well. With Ricky-Jean Francois and Glenn Dorsey having time off, they will be fresher. We should not miss a linebacker, corner or safety in that game. They should all have fresh legs and be excited to play. Early Doucet was nicked in the championship game but he will return for bowl practice in short order.”

BCS Selection Show Press Conference
December 2, 2007

Athletics Director Skip Bertman

On this weekend for the LSU football team...
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years in athletics, and this is the most astonishing 36 or 48 or 72 hours that I’ve ever seen. Of course, it turned out to be magnificent for LSU. Not only do we get the coach (Les Miles), but we get a chance at the national championship in the same weekend. Going in, we didn’t know either one of those things.”

On what catapulted LSU into the No. 2 spot in the BCS...
“He’s really humbled. He believes, and so do I, that this team is the only team that was undefeated in regulation play, had the best power rating of any strength of schedule, had a lot of injuries, and outside of one half against Tulane played magnificently with effort for every single quarter plus the overtimes. I think that makes a difference. I think that affected a lot of voters.”

On the benefits of playing in the BCS National Championship Game...
“It’s fun for me. I’m proud for Les that the selection committee picked him and that he’s here and that he stays for an awfully long time. At the same time, he’s just a good coach. He’s more than that. There are a lot of good coaches, but he’s a good person. He does things right, is very humble and noble, is a great family man, and I’m glad he’s our coach. But you’re right. It’s fun for me. I’m excited about the national championship with a chance to be the only team that playing. I think the chancellor told me that there was a record number of applicants to the university here, and I told him that next year would be a new record. This game will last four to five hours on primetime TV, and the exposure for the university and for Baton Rouge will be unbelievable. So, it’s got some other benefits other than the chance to get the crystal ball.”


OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES

QB Matt Flynn

On the selection show and the team’s reaction ...
“It was a relief. Last night and today, we were hearing people say that we deserved to play for a National Championship, but we had to wait and see. I try to not get my hopes up. It was just nice to finally see our name pop up on the screen. After last week, everyone counted us out. Great things happened yesterday. We are fortunate, and we are very humbled to be playing on January 7.”

On hearing about the Missouri and West Virginia losses ...
“The captain of the plane actually told us last night. He said that he heard West Virginia lost, and that Missouri was losing in the fourth quarter. We were saying that if he was wrong about the West Virginia game, we were going to be pretty upset. When we were finally able to get cell phone service, people were calling us and giving us updates. It was kind of a shock. Everything just seems to be working out for this team.”

RB Jacob Hester

On the selection show and the team’s reaction ...
“It’s hard to explain. It was something that wasn’t expected as of last night. It was a great feeling just to win the SEC. When we got on the plane after the game, the pilot was telling us the scores from last night. We didn’t want to get our hopes up today, but when they put Georgia’s name up for the Sugar Bowl, it was just a great feeling to know that we still have a chance to win the National Championship.”

On the chances to play for the National Championship ...
“Going into the SEC Championship, nobody was giving us a shot to be in the National Championship. Coach Miles kept telling us that we still had a shot. He kept saying that we were the only team considered that hadn’t lost a game in regulation. He said the voters would see that. We just went out and won the SEC Championship. Who would have known that we would have a shot? It’s just crazy right now.”

LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES

DT Glenn Dorsey

On if playing in the national championship is why he returned for his senior season ...
“It is the big reason. Looking back on it, it seemed like it was meant to be. As the season went on we started getting into better position. We are playing great football. I’m enjoying the whole LSU atmosphere. This is the reason why I came back, and I’m just enjoying it and taking it one day at a time.”

On the team making it to the national championship after a tough season ...
“I really couldn’t believe it. It’s like a dream come true. If you look at the season and how we had to deal with so much - even in the SEC championship game we had to deal with everybody talking about our coach (Les Miles) - the way our team came together and played hard in that game, we just tried to take care of our business, and it worked out for us. It is an unbelievable feeling.”

S Craig Steltz

On what it is like to know LSU is in the national championship game ...
“It’s awesome. It’s a dream come true for a bunch of seniors on this team that have busted their butts all year. We faced a lot of adversity, and we just kept on fighting. We focused on the game and never worried about anything else.”

On if he thought LSU could make it to the championship game ...
“Before the SEC championship game I didn’t think it was possible that we could make it to the national championship game, but after the victory (over Tennessee) we were hearing some things about different teams and scores. After that, we found out that there was a shot.”

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