Louisville and LSU play in the 2016 Citrus Bowl in match-up that pits a good quarterback versus a good defense.
The Tigers awarded Ed Orgeron the head coaching position after finishing the season 5-2, bringing the LSU total record to 7-4. Their four losses were all to bowl eligible. They have four wins over bowl eligible teams, including: Texas A&M, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State.
Danny Etling took over the quarterback job midway through the season. He played decently with 1,906 passing yards, nine interceptions and four interceptions. He was a vast improvement over Brandon Harris, but is still not an ideal quarterback for the Tigers.
Wide receiver Malachi Dupre has been the most productive target. He has 454 receiving yards and three touchdowns. D.J. Chark and Travin Dural also can create separation and be viable receivers to Etling.
Leonard Fournette has decided to sit out this game due to chronic ankle injuries that have plagued him all year. Derrius Guice has been a star himself filling in for Fournette, with 1,249 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He runs as hard as any running back in the country.
The rush defense of the Tigers is great, giving up 122 yards per game. Their secondary is one of the best in the country and shows it by only 201 yards per game.
Arden Key has been the best pass rusher with 10 sacks on the season. Kendell Beckwith is a great tackler behind him with 91 total tackles. The secondary features a lot of draft prospects including Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams.
The Cardinals won nine of their first 10 games before losing their last two to finish at 9-3. Despite their good record Louisville only beat four bowl eligible teams: Florida State, NC State, Boston College and Wake Forest. They only lost games to bowl eligible teams.
The Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, has elevated the level of his team’s play. He threw for 3,390, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Jackson is also the team leader in rushing with 1,538 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. He will go up against one of the best defenses he has ever faced in LSU. The key is protecting the football, as in his last game against Kentucky he turned the ball over four times.
Jackson has a lot of receivers to throw to. James Quick has 688 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Tight end Cole Hikutini leads the team with eight receiving touchdowns and has added 656 yards. Jaylen Smith is their big play guy with 22.2 yards per reception.
Running back Brandon Radcliff has rushed for 877 yards and six touchdowns on 6.6 yards per carry to supplement Jackson.
Louisville has an elite rush defense that allows just 110 yards per game. Their pass defense is solid giving up 206 yards per game.
Linebacker James Hearns has been a great blitzer with eight sacks on the season. Jaire Alexander has five interceptions on the season. Louisville has a load of other players who are play-makers on defense too.
LSU will force Jackson to turn the ball over and will pound the rock with Guice to win this game.
LSU Tigers 28 Louisville Cardinals 24