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Bowl practice will help young Tigers grow

Leonard Fournette voiced a common position among LSU players after last week’s win over Texas A&M when a reporter asked if he had a preference where the Tigers go bowling.

“It don’t matter,” said Fournette, LSU’s star freshman running back. “As long as I’m playing with my team.”

Sporting an atypical 8-4 record, the Tigers are unlikely to appear in a big-name bowl game, as they have nearly every year in the 2000s. And yet because of the team’s youth, LSU coach Les Miles pointed out that an extra two weeks of postseason practice might benefit the Tigers even more than their usual time spent preparing for a bowl.

“A young team gets better,” Miles said. “You have 15 spring practices. There’s a potential of at least 12 [bowl practices], maybe more. It kind of depends on the bowl you’re selected to participate in.”

Miles and the Tigers will learn their postseason destination on Sunday, and it’s possible that they will wind up in a bowl game where the program has little or no previous experience. Of the five games where LSU seems most likely to play, it has never appeared in three (AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and Belk Bowl) and has played in another (TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly known as the Gator) just once.

According to a sampling of national bowl projections, the most popular picks for LSU are the Texas Bowl at Houston’s NRG Stadium – where the Tigers opened the season with a win against Wisconsin – and the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy were split along those lines in this week’s bowl projections, with Schlabach predicting that LSU would face Texas win the Texas Bowl and McMurphy slotting the Tigers against Louisville in the TaxSlayer.

Texas and West Virginia (four each) were the most common projected LSU opponents, followed by Louisville (two).

Here are three possible bowl scenarios for the Tigers (all times ET):

ADVOCARE V100 TEXAS BOWL

Date: Dec. 29 at Houston’s NRG Stadium

Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN

Matchup: Big 12 No. 4 vs. SEC No. 3-8

Projected opponents: Texas, West Virginia

LSU’s history in bowl: None

TAXSLAYER BOWL

Date: Jan. 2 at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field

Time/TV: 3:20 p.m., ESPN

Matchup: Big Ten No. 5 vs. No. SEC 3-8

Projected opponents: Louisville, Maryland

LSU’s history in bowl: Beat South Carolina 30-13 in 1987

AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL

Date: Dec. 29 at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN

Matchup: Big 12 No. 5 vs. SEC No. 3-8

Projected opponent: West Virginia

LSU’s history in bowl: Lost 20-15 to Missouri in 1978 and lost 21-7 to Baylor in 1985

LSU’S BOWL POSSIBILITIES

Here is a sampling of 15 national publications’ bowl projections for LSU and the Tigers’ projected opponent (where available):

Bill Bender, Sporting News: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus West Virginia)

Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus Texas)

Zac Ellis, SI.com: TaxSlayer Bowl (versus Maryland)

Mike Huguenin, NFL.com: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus Texas)

Jason Kirk, SBNation.com: AutoZone Liberty Bowl (versus West Virginia)

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: TaxSlayer Bowl (versus Louisville)

Stewart Mandel, FoxSports.com: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (versus Notre Dame)

Brett McMurphy, ESPN.com: TaxSlayer Bowl (versus Louisville)

Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus Texas)

Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Belk Bowl (versus Notre Dame)

Scott Rabalais, Baton Rouge Advocate: TaxSlayer Bowl

Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com: TaxSlayer Bowl

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus Texas)

Phil Steele, PhilSteele.com: AutoZone Liberty Bowl (versus West Virginia)

Jim Tomlin, Tampa Bay Times: AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (versus West Virginia)