The LSU football team will reassemble in Atlanta tomorrow following a three-day break from practice. The seventh-ranked Tigers finished on-campus preparation with a scrimmage on Saturday.
LSU and 13th-ranked Clemson will square off for just the third time on New Year's Eve at 7:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game will be televised unopposed on ESPN. Both teams enter the game with identical 10-2 records as LSU will be looking for its sixth season of at least 11 wins under Les Miles.
LSU will be playing a game on New Year's Eve for just the fourth time in school history and the first since a 38-3 win over Georgia Tech in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Other New Year's Eve games for the Tigers came in the Gator Bowl in 1987 (def. South Carolina, 30-13) and the 1977 Sun Bowl (lost Stanford, 24-14) in El Paso, Texas.
Saturday's practice was the eighth for the Tigers during bowl preparations. LSU will practice four times along with a walk-through once they arrive in Atlanta on Dec. 26.
Miles' bowl preparation approach, unlike most teams, incorporates a full-scale, filmed-and-graded scrimmage on the final of on-campus practice.
"We kind of lightened the load the last couple of practices," Miles said prior to the scrimmage. "We've been really going heavy earlier in the week. What we will do is finish with a situational scrimmage, kind of a game if you will. We will practice the teams and all of the situations that are significant in a football game.
"We will challenge some guys to have a very representative practice that will let us know where we are at in positions and where we are ready for this game. In our preparation I think the attitude is very good."
Miles said that in addition to bowl practice getting his Tigers ready for Clemson, it's also given some of the younger players an opportunity for additional reps in practice, which will only benefit the team.
"It is night and day," Miles said of bowl practice compared to workouts during the regular season. "If you think about it, we have a 15-practice spring. We will practice about 14 times in this bowl practice. Our young guys are getting a lot of reps and it's only going to help them develop."
Miles said it was important for the Tigers to get the most out of their scrimmage so that the players could then turn their attention to Christmas.
"They are really itching to get home for Christmas, get to shop and do what everyone else in America is doing right now, and not practice football," Miles said. "They are looking forward to shopping, eating too much and all of the goodies and smiling.
"But first, it's critical that we have a good effort in the scrimmage. We're really going to run our offense, defense and special teams with looks against what we have seen our opponent do. Some pieces of the day will be kind of elementary practice - LSU vs. LSU. But this will be kind of a nice little review.
"We will review this (scrimmage) as a coaching staff. When we get to Atlanta, this film will be used in meeting time for the team so it's important that we get really good quality looks."