ATLANTA — Whether it’s the first game of the season, the handful along the way against bitter rivals or the last time a team will strap on helmets and take the field together, every football game boils down to matchups.
Can your best players line up and beat the best players from the other team man-to-man, play-after-play more often and more convincingly for 60 minutes?
In that sense, tonight’s Chick-fil-A Bowl between LSU (7-5) and 14th-ranked Georgia Tech (9-3) won’t be much different than the previous 12 games the teams have played this season or the last three bowl outings the Tigers have turned in under coach Les Miles.
What’s different is the matchups facing LSU’s defense.
Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense is a hybrid of the wishbone from the 1960s and ’70s and the spread offenses in vogue now.
And the stakes, motivation and sense of urgency are intertwined and packaged differently for LSU as well.
Instead of putting a crescendo on a stellar season like they have the last three years, the Tigers are relegated to tacking something positive onto a season that spiraled out of control in November.
Whether LSU can dig deep enough to find the necessary motivation to play well will be nearly as important as how well the Tigers slow down the Yellow Jackets proficient offense, making this season finale intriguing.
“It’s real important for us to come out and play with energy and intensity because we want to finish this season a lot better than we’ve played the last few games,” LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith said. “If we do that and play good fundamental defense the way we’ve been coached, we’ll be OK.”