LSU right at home in Georgia Dome

FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, LSU coach Les Miles appears during an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, a person familiar with the deal said a new seven-year contract between Miles and LSU said puts his new annual pay in the range of $4.3 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial details of Miles' deal were not released. (AP Photo/April L. Brown, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, LSU coach Les Miles appears during an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, a person familiar with the deal said a new seven-year contract between Miles and LSU said puts his new annual pay in the range of $4.3 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial details of Miles' deal were not released. (AP Photo/April L. Brown, File)

By Scott Hotard

Advocate sportswriter

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank seeks a new retractable-roof stadium for his franchise, meaning the Georgia Dome — home to the Falcons for 21 years — could eventually go the way of the Seattle Kingdome or Texas Stadium.

If so, no one would miss the 71,250-seat venue in downtown Atlanta more than the LSU football program.

The Tigers return to the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve to face Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl looking to build on a 9-1 mark in their 10 appearances there.

LSU has won all four of its bowl games at the Georgia Dome, four of its five Southeastern Conference championship games, and bounced North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic to start the 2010 season.

The only loss for the Tigers was a rout by Georgia to end Les Miles’ first regular season, but the LSU coach rebounded with a rout of his own against Miami one game later. He has experienced nothing but good times there ever since.

The Georgia Dome is where Miles held his hastily called news conference to famously extinguish a report that he would be the next coach at Michigan. Hours later, he beat Tennessee behind backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and earned a berth in the BCS title game.

The last time Miles coached in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, LSU was coming off a wobbly 7-5 regular season, but the Tigers trounced Georgia Tech in what amounted to a Yellow Jackets home game.

You thought Clemson, only a two-hour drive from the nearest Atlanta traffic jam, would have the edge in this game playing close to home? History says otherwise.

Over the last two decades, LSU has played — and won — more games in the Georgia Dome than it has down the road at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The last trip to Atlanta resulted in a 42-10 thumping of Georgia in last year’s SEC title game.

Maybe all that on-field success in Georgia’s capital city explains why the Tigers have had such luck there on the recruiting front.

Some may visit the Peach State to check out Underground Atlanta or the World of Coca-Cola. Miles and his staff often visit in search of the next Kelvin Sheppard or T-Bob Hebert.

The Tigers recruit Georgia as hard — and as well — as they do Louisiana’s neighboring states.

LSU had only seven starters, on offense, defense and special teams, from outside Louisiana for its regular-season finale at Arkansas. Five of the seven (including freshman long snapper Reid Ferguson) call Georgia home.

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hails from Watkinsville and team MVP Kevin Minter from Suwanee.

That’s nothing new.

When the Tigers faced North Carolina in the 2010 kickoff game, they traveled with a roster that included nine Peach State products.

Certainly the long list of Tigers from Georgia making the trip to Atlanta this year would love to make their homecoming a happy one and help LSU reach 11 wins.

Given the program’s track record there, you have to like their chances.