ATLANTA —The result of Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game did little to alter the likelihood that LSU will be heading down I-10 one way or another for its bowl game.
The Tigers are probably bound for the Texas Bowl, set for Dec. 29 in Houston, though there’s still a chance LSU may wind up in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida.
TaxSlayer Bowl President/CEO Rick Catlett said he spoke this week to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva but didn’t discuss the nature of their conversation.
Alleva could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday.
Bowl parings will be revealed Sunday afternoon after the announcement of the College Football Playoff semifinals at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN.
LSU has never played in the Texas Bowl. The Tigers’ opponent would be a Big 12 team, likely Texas Tech or West Virginia.
LSU last played in the TaxSlayer (formerly Gator) Bowl in 1987. The opponent there is expected to be Penn State.
The Texas and TaxSlayer bowls are part of the SEC’s “Pool of Six” games.
After SEC teams are slotted in the CFP and the Citrus Bowl makes its choice, the SEC will decide which teams go to the Texas, TaxSlayer, Liberty, Outback, Music City and Belk bowls. Bowls and schools may state their preferences, but the conference office has the final say.
The Tigers will be making their 16th straight bowl appearance, an ongoing school record. LSU is 23-22-1 in 46 appearances overall.
The Advocate’s SEC bowl projections
Cotton (CFP semifinal): Alabama
Sugar: Ole Miss
Music City: Texas A&M
Belk: Mississippi State
Independence: No eligible team
Alabama tailback Derrick Henry rushed 44 times for 189 yards Saturday. That gave him 1,986 for the season in 13 games and broke the SEC single-season record of 1,891 yards set by Georgia’s Herschel Walker in 1981 in 11 games.
Henry is averaging 152.8 yards per game this season. That’s still behind LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who leads the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision with 158.3 yards per game.
Fournette has 1,741 yards in 11 games.
It’s widely expected Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will be named Georgia’s head coach in the next day or two, but he was entertaining no talk of it after Saturday’s game, making himself unavailable for interviews.
Alabama players told the Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald that they expect Smart to go to Georgia but that he would coach them in the College Football Playoff.
Smart was an assistant coach in Nick Saban’s last season at LSU in 2004 and played at Georgia from 1995-98.
Alabama blocked two Florida kicks in the first quarter, the first a punt for a safety that bounced through the end zone and the second on a field-goal attempt. It’s the first time a team has done both in an SEC Championship Game.
It was the first safety in the SEC Championship Game since LSU recorded one in 2003 on a faulty punt snap by Georgia in a 34-13 victory.
Florida failed to convert a third down on its last eight attempts in 2014 in a 42-21 loss at Alabama. The Gators were 0-for-11 on third down Saturday, a string of 19 straight third-down failures against the Crimson Tide.
It’s just the third time since 1996 that Florida failed to convert a third down. One of the others was in a 34-7 loss to Alabama in this game in 1999.
Former University High standout Tim Williams had two sacks Saturday for Alabama from his linebacker spot, earning praise from his coach.
“I’m really kind of proud of Tim Williams,” Saban said. “He’s had to overcome some struggles. He’s doing better in school and is playing really well on third down and affecting the quarterback.”
Monroe native Cam Robinson started at left tackle for Alabama while Bastrop’s Denzel Devall started at outside linebacker.
Alabama held the ball 13 minutes, 55 seconds in the third quarter, breaking LSU’s SEC title-game record for time of possession in a quarter set in 2007 against Tennessee (12:30, second quarter). … Despite the win, Alabama is still 4-6 against Florida in SEC Championship Games. … Alabama is the first team to win back-to-back SEC championships since Tennessee in 1997-98. … Next year’s SEC Championship Game (Dec. 3) will be the last played in the Georgia Dome. In 2017 the game moves next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, now under construction.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.