Peach Bowl to host two top 10 teams for first time

Updated: December 5, 2005, 2:02 AM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Peach Bowl will match two top 10 teams for the first time in its history, as No. 9 Miami will play No. 10 LSU in the Dec. 30 game in the Georgia Dome.

Each team will be making a repeat trip to the Georgia Dome.

Miami played in last season's Peach Bowl, defeating Florida 27-10. LSU lost to Georgia Saturday night, 34-14, in the Southeastern Conference championship game in the Georgia Dome.

Peach Bowl chairman Leeman Bennett called the pairing of Miami (9-2) and LSU (10-2) "a dream game."

"To be able to have Miami back in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and match them against a top-10 LSU team is a dream game for us," Bennett said.

"The Hurricanes showed us last year that they were a first-class program, and we're very excited to have them back."

LSU, led by first-year coach Les Miles, had a nine-game winning streak end with the loss to Georgia. The Tigers beat three SEC teams that finished the regular season in the top 20: Florida, Auburn and Alabama.

"Coach Miles has done a terrific job in leading his team through a very tough SEC schedule, and we think his club will provide a tough opponent for Miami," Bennett said.

Miami was ranked as high as third in late November after winning eight straight games, including a 27-7 win over then No. 3 Virginia Tech.

"We're very excited about the matchup in this game," said Miami head coach Larry Coker. "We're going to play an outstanding LSU team, and we think it's one of the best matchups of this bowl season. We have said all along we wanted to play the best opponent, and we got that."

The Hurricanes were thought to be a likely opponent for Louisville in the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville on Jan. 2, but those notions were apparently tossed when Florida State upset Virginia Tech for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship on Saturday night.

LSU was No. 3 in the nation before falling to the Bulldogs.

Miles lobbied this week for a spot in the Cotton Bowl, which instead issued an invitation to Alabama. LSU accepted the Peach Bowl invitation.

"We're looking forward to taking the field again," Miles said Sunday. "We have a great group of seniors on this team, and we're fortunate to be playing in a bowl game that features a quality opponent in Miami."

This will be LSU's fourth Peach Bowl appearance and their first since 2000, when the Tigers beat Georgia Tech. LSU is 3-0 in the Peach Bowl, also beating Clemson in 1996 and Florida State in the inaugural 1968 game.

"This is a team that has literally weathered the storm and still managed to have an incredible season, winning the West and playing for an SEC Championship," said Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan.

LSU leads the series with Miami 8-3. The two split their last two meetings, most recently with Miami beating the Tigers in 1988.

"This is a very strong game," Stokan said. "We have arguably the equivalent of a BCS matchup this year."

Miami is making a bowl appearance for the eighth consecutive season. The Hurricanes are 2-0 all-time in the Peach, having also defeated Virginia Tech following the 1980 season.

"The LSU-Miami matchup is a very attractive game," Coker said. "There's the BCS national championship game between Southern California and Texas and the Fiesta Bowl between Notre Dame and Ohio State. And now there's Miami-LSU. People watching television will want to watch this game."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press