Clemson, Auburn To Meet In Chick-Fil-A Bowl

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Clemson accepted an invitation to the 40th-annual Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Sunday, returning Tommy Bowden to the site of one of his greatest moments as the Tigers' head coach.

Clemson, ranked No. 15 in the country, will face 22nd-ranked Auburn in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on New Year's Eve.

"We're pleased, privileged and honord to invite Clemson to join us," said Chick-Fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan. "We couldn't find a better matchup between two teams so similar. Both have coaches named Tommy, both are Tigers, both are 5-3, both are second in their division, both are coming off big wins over their rival."

This will be Clemson's seventh trip to the former Peach Bowl, tying it with N.C. State for the most appearances in the game's history.

The Tigers' last trip to Atlanta came at the end of the 2003 season, a double-digit victory over Tennessee. It was that game, along with three consecutive wins leading up to the Peach Bowl, that saved Tommy Bowden's job that year and got him the contract extension just days later.

Now, in line for an extension again, Bowden said his team will be ready to play.

"It's a first-class bowl, and with all the players we have from Georgia I know they're excited," he said. "There will be a lot of family there, and to play a team the caliber of Auburn should have everyone in our program excited."

There are 33 total players on the two teams from the state of Georgia.

Clemson's inclusion in the bowl game comes at the expense of Boston College, which lost the ACC Championship Game to Virginia Tech Saturday in Jacksonville. For the third straight year an Eagles team that beat Clemson and had a better record than the Tigers will go to a lesser bowl.

The main reason? Ticket sales, though Stokan tried to downplay that during Sunday's teleconference.

"Fan support was one issue we considered, but it wasn't the deciding issue," he said. "We went through the process with our selection committee last Monday, and then in Jacksonville yesterday. We looked at final rankings and the fact that Clemson won three of its last four coming in. Beating South Carolina had a lot to do with it, as well.

"Clemson and Auburn are good for TV. On the field, with the exception of a play or two, Clemson could be 11-1 or 10-2. We feel like we're getting an excellent team."

The Tigers' ticket allotment will be 17,500, compared to 15,700 for Auburn.

As for the contract extension issue, which Terry Don Phillips (Clemson's athletic director) said he wanted to offer Bowden last week, does Bowden want an extension?

"I'll stay as long as they want me," he said.

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