LSU Bowl Games

1996 Peach Bowl

LSU Coach Gerry DiNardo
Gerry DiNardo

Clemson Coach Tommy West
Tommy West

Clemson DE Trevor Pryce
Trevor Pryce

Clemson QB Nealon Greene
Nealon Greene

As this is written just before the 2012 Chick-fil-A bowl, LSU and Clemson have met just twice on the gridiron, both times in bowl games.
  • The first, and more famous, clash came in the 1959 Sugar Bowl when LSU defeated Clemson 7-0 to complete their undefeated national championship season.
  • After a scoreless first half, Billy Cannon fired a HB pass to Mickey Mangham for a 9y TD to stave off the upset. The short drive was set up by Duane Leopard's recovery of a bad punt snap on the 11.

The next meeting came 28 years later in Atlanta in what was then called the Peach Bowl.

  • Gerry DiNardo came to LSU in 1995 vowing to "Bring Back the Magic" to Tiger Stadium and end the six-year bowl drought. He did that immediately, leading LSU to 7-4-1 mark and a victory over Nick Saban's Michigan State Spartans in the Independence Bowl.
  • Gerry's '96 team finished 9-2, LSU's best record since 10-1-1 in '87. The #17 Tigers tied Alabama for first in the SEC West but didn't qualify for the champ­ionship game because of the Tide's 26-0 victory in Baton Rouge.
  • Concerning the post-season matchup, DiNardo said: There is a lot of history that makes this an interesting and exciting game. It will be fun to play in the Georgia Dome for our players and it promises to be a tremendous experience for our fans.
  • LSU had played in the first Peach Bowl in 1968 against Florida State but had not been back to Atlanta since for any game.

Clemson won the mythical Lazarus Award for rising from the dead midway through the season.

  • The Tigers shook off a 2-3 start and a spate of embarrassing off-the-field inci­dents to win five straight before losing to archrival South Carolina in the finale when Matt Padgett's 37y FG sailed wide left on the game's last play. Remember that name and the result.
  • With a 6-2 conference record, the Tigers tied North Carolina for second in the ACC.
Some reporters commented on the similarities between the two Tiger teams.
  • Same team nickname and same stadium nickname: "Death Valley"
  • Same coaching philosophy: Play physical football based on a strong running game and tenacious defense.
  • Rely on a workhorse running back: LSU's sophomore sensation Kevin Faulk rushed for 1,282y while junior Raymond Priester gave West 1,194y. Each ranked second in his conference, and each team led its league in rushing.
  • When Clemson coach Tommy West watched LSU film, he saw the kind of team he wanted at Clemson built around the word "tough." He said of DiNardo: I've got a lot of respect for the way he runs his program as far as the toughness part. I enjoy watching that. I think this game will turn into a very physical contest. It will be fun to watch, especially if you like two teams that rely on that kind of football.
The pregame didn't please Clemson fans.
  • For some reason (confusion of South Carolina schools' traditions?), the music chosen for Clemson's entrance was Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra (better known as "2001 A Space Odyssey). The problem? That's the theme of Clemson's hated rival, South Carolina. Folks in orange among the 63,622 booed. Then they saw their heroes racing out of the tunnel amid indoor fireworks. Some switched to cheers. Most kept booing - the music, not the players.
  • The players, who may have been confused by the booing, wore orange pants as well as orange jerseys, a winning outfit the last eight times the Tigers wore that combination.
Each coach got the game he wanted on December 28 in the Georgia Dome. Fans who like lots of scoring changed the channel early.
  • Clemson created the first break late in Q1 when star DE Trevor Pryce sacked QB Herb Tyler, jarring the ball loose in the process. LB Harold Means picked up the pigskin and rumbled to the 9 before being brought down.
  • Two runs moved the ball to the 5. From there, QB Nealon Greene rolled to his left but couldn't find anyone open. So he reversed field into the EZ. Padgett's PAT made it 7-0.
1996 Peach Bowl Action - 1 Kevin Faulk runs in 1996 Peach Bowl.
L: Trevor Price sacks Herb Tyler, causing a fumble. R: Kevin Faulk breaks loose.

LSU K Wade Richey
Wade Richey

DT Anthony McFarland LSU
Anthony "Booger" McFarland

LSU DB Cedric Donaldson
Cedric Donaldson

LSU came right back from the fumble, driving 80y in seven plays.

  • Tyler was huge on the drive, rushing for 14y on the final play of Q1 and hitting passes of 19 and 31y, the second for a first down at the 7.
  • Faulk's 3y run tied the score.

It didn't take LSU long to take the lead.

  • On their next possession, the Bayou Tigers prowled 77y in 10 plays.
  • They seemed to score on Tyler's 1y plunge, but a procedure penalty negated the tally. Herb kept again on the next play but was stopped a foot short of the goal.
  • So DiNardo settled for a 22y FG by Wade Richey with 4:35 on the clock.

The teams spent the rest of the evening pounding away at each other without putting any more points on the board.

  • Clemson's "Sominex offense" (to quote Mike Berardino of the Augusta Chronicle) moved into LSU territory only to self-combust. As expected, Priester did the heavy lifting. He finished with 151y on 25 carries to become the school's leading rusher with 3,010y. He also broke the single-season yardage mark he set in '95 and added to his record for career 100y games with 12.
  • But Raymond needed more help from his mates. Clemson had ten possessions through the first three quarters and half lasted just three plays, counting the short scoring drive. With such a pedestrian offense, the Tigers couldn't afford any mistakes. Instead, a holding penalty stopped one drive and false start and delay of game calls disrupted another series.
  • The ACC Tigers moved from the 10 to midfield on one drive, but DT Booger McFarland sacked Greene and Cedric Donaldson stopped Priester for a loss. We feel like no one can drive the length of the field on us, McFarland said. Every time they got going, we decided it was time for the defense to make a play.
  • Punter Kevin Laird was West's best weapon. He set a Peach Bowl record with seven punts inside the 20 to keep LSU backed up for most of the game.
  • Another Clemson possession ended when Priester fumbled for the first time all season one play after setting the school career rushing record on a 13y gain. There's not a whole lot to say, G Glenn Rountree said. We just kept stopping our­selves, shooting ourselves in the foot.
 1996 Peach Bowl - Priester Runs
Raymond Priester gains some of his 151y.
1996 Peach Bowl - LSU on offense1996 Peach Bowl - Herb Tyler
Herb Tyler calls the signals for LSU.

LSU TE David LaFleur
David LaFleur 

Clemson K Matt Padgett
Matt Padgett
  • LSU moved closed enough in Q3 for Richey to try a 40y FG, but Pryce came up with another big play - the first blocked kick for the Bayou Bengals all season.
  • With the Orange D limiting Faulk to just 64y on 23 carries, the SEC Tigers could not add to the lead and had to rely on their defense to hang on. At one point, usually reliable TE David LeFleur dropped a wide-open TD pass.
 1996 Peach Bowl - Nicky Savoie
A defender snares TE Nicki Savoie.
Late in the game, Faulk muffed a punt to hand Clemson excellent field position.
  • Facing a third-and-1 at the LSU 30, the Tigers were set back 5y by a procedure penalty. Then Greene's pass fell incomplete.
  • That brought Padgett in to attempt the tying 3-pointer from 52y out with 1:10 left. Padgett had never attempted a FG longer than 49y.
  • Still, he felt confident. I hit it good, he said afterward. Whether it was low or not, I can't say. It felt like it had height to me. Coach West said I was one of the luckiest guys he ever knew to have two chances to do that [win a game] in a month. The one against South Carolina, I hit that one bad. Going out there tonight, I thought I would make the kick.
  • Padgett will never know whether the kick would have gone through the uprights because DE Aaron Adams blocked it.
  • Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to, philosophied Padgett in the locker room.
1996 Peach Bowl - Tigers exult
Tigers exult with the Peach Bowl trophy.
48 is LB Joe Wesley. 34 is unknown.

The victory gave LSU just its fifth season of 10 or more wins.

  • Neither team reached the 300y mark for offense: LSU 297, Clemson 258.
  • Tyler earned the MVP award after completing 14-of-21 for 163 while rushing for an additional 38.
  • DiNardo: It was kind of typical of our year. We won ugly a lot this year. I felt on te sidelines the score should have been different. If we had lost this game, it would have bothered me.
  • The loss dampened Priester's record-setting performance. It wasn't enough to give my team a victory. This will stick with me until spring ball. But things happen. We didn't make the plays when we had the opportunity to.

LSU rose to #12 in the final AP poll, their highest ranking since 1987.

The game was the last "Peach Bowl" before Chick-fil-A took over sponsorship. So LSU has the distinction of winning both the first and last Peach Bowls.




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