LSU coach Nick Saban understands the significance of an invitation to play Iowa in the Capital One Bowl.
Sure, it's not nearly as big as last year's bowl when the Tigers played Oklahoma for the BCS national championship in the Sugar Bowl, but the Capital One invitation means the Tigers will have played in five quality bowls in five seasons under Saban.
The Tigers have earned trips to the Peach, Sugar, Cotton, Sugar and Capital One in the Saban era.
"We always talk about it's our goal is to be a nationally recognized dominant program. And I think accomplishing these types of things over time is what gets you that type of recognition," Saban said.
The Capital One Bowl might not be a BCS game, but it is, Saban said, the "No. 1 New Year's Day bowl game that's not in the BCS, in terms of popularity, matchups, community support, a lot of different things."
Like Iowa, LSU is a team on a roll. While the No. 12 Hawkeyes are 9-2 and co-champions of the Big Ten with seven consecutive victories, the No. 11 Tigers are 9-2 with six straight wins. That just adds to the importance of the game for LSU coaches and players.
"It means a lot to us, the respect that we have at this program," junior offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "I think we all feel like we deserve that respect, and we work hard trying to earn that respect. And I think it's going to be a big motivation for us to go out and prove why we should be picked.
"We'll play hard and play good and give them what they want."
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