LSU set to make 14th straight bowl appearance

Yearly ritual continues as LSU prepares for 14th straight bowl appearance

The last time LSU didn’t make it to a bowl game, Vadal Alexander was about to turn 6 years old.

“Tells you how great this program is,” said LSU’s starting left guard.

Alexander and his teammates will arrive Thursday in Tampa, Fla., site of the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl pitting No. 14 LSU (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) against unranked Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten).

Thursday’s bowl arrival is the 14th in 14 years. The Tigers’ active streak of 14 consecutive bowl games is sixth-best in the nation and second-best in the league.

The run is the 14th-longest in college football history, according to mcubed.net.

Along the way, LSU has beaten some of the best in college football, has lost nail-biters and has won blowouts.

Hop on as we take you on a trip through LSU’s 14 straight bowl appearances:

Beating the big dogs

Remember how we mentioned LSU had beaten some of college football’s best programs?

We weren’t lying. The Tigers have toppled Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Miami during this bowl streak. Those three schools account for 20 of the 77 AP national titles.

The Irish (eight titles), Sooners (seven) and Hurricanes (five) are second, third and tied for fourth in AP crowns.

Nick Saban-led LSU beat Oklahoma 21-14 to win the BCS championship following the 2003 season, a controversial matchup. Southern Cal, at 11-1, finished third behind top-ranked Oklahoma (12-1) and LSU (12-1) in the final BCS standings.

The Trojans were left out despite their only loss coming in triple overtime on the road. LSU lost at home to Florida and OU capped its season with a 28-point loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.

Southern Cal won the AP title that season after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

In back-to-back seasons, LSU beat Miami and Notre Dame by a combined score of 81-17.

A 41-3 whacking of Miami came in the 2005 Peach Bowl, the last to be played before the name change to the Chick-fil-A. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn earned the game’s Offensive Most Outstanding Player, throwing for 196 yards and two scores in his first career start as LSU capped a grueling first year under Les Miles in style. Hurricane Katrina hit about two weeks before the season opener.

The Tigers beat Notre Dame 41-14 a season later in the Sugar Bowl. JaMarcus Russell threw for 332 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Tigers shut out the Irish in the second half.

You’d probably like to forget

This streak doesn’t only come with smiles.

LSU lost 21-0 to Alabama in the BCS Championship game following the 2011 season, and Texas whipped the Tigers 35-20 in the Cotton Bowl in 2002.

The game against Texas in the cramped and classic confines of the old Cotton Bowl Stadium seemed a tough matchup for LSU in the outset. Texas was 10-2 and ranked No. 9. LSU was 8-4 and unranked.

The Longhorns and receiver Roy Williams gashed LSU for 441 yards of offense in a game that became out of reach in the third quarter. Williams caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score. He finished with 142 yards receiving.

Saban’s headset lay on the field plenty of times during this affair.

And then there was Alabama. The Crimson Tide, two years ago, pummeled LSU in the rematch of the Game of the Century. This one wasn’t so great.

The Tigers lost 21-0. They had five first downs, 92 yards of offense and nine punts in a disastrous outing.

Oh-so close

Three of LSU’s five bowl losses during this 14-year run have come by a combined eight points.

The Tigers lost by five to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl in 2005 (’04 season), by two to Penn State in the Capital One after the 2009 year and then by a point to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season.

In each game, the Tigers had the late lead before the opponent mounted a game-winning drive and score.

Iowa did it with “The Catch,” a 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired in Saban’s final game as LSU’s coach. Penn State went 65 yards on 12 plays in 5:57 for a game-winning 21-yard field goal.

Surely you remember last season — LSU led 24-13 late in the third quarter before Clemson rallied for a pair of field goals and a touchdown to claim a 25-24 win. Clemson’s final drive was 10 plays and 60 yards, capped by a 37-yard game-winning field goal.

Sound familiar?