The Citrus Bowl pits the LSU Tigers against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. These two teams played each other at the conclusion of the 2014 season in the Music City Bowl. Both teams had solid seasons again and were just a few wins away from reaching their goals. Here is the 2018 Citrus Bowl preview:
14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)
Notre Dame was a playoff contender going into the last three weeks of the season, but lost two of their last three games. They lost to Georgia, Miami and Stanford, which were all losses to good teams. They were able to beat some solid teams in USC, N.C. State and Michigan State.
The Fighting Irish score 35.3 points per game and run the ball well. They average 279.1 yards on the ground per game. Josh Adams has been their star running back this season with 1,386 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The second leading rusher on the team is quarterback Brandon Wimbush with 765 yards and 14 touchdowns. They have two very good offensive linemen who clear holes for the running game in Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.
Wimbush has had his struggles throwing the ball this season. He completes less than 50% of his passes at 49.8%. On the season he has 1,818 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Wimbush has the potential to make good throws, but is inconsistent. Equanimeous St. Brown is the leading receiver with 468 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Their defense is one of the most improved units in the entire country and allow 21.8 points per game. They rank 49th against the run and 51st against the pass. Nyles Morgan is the leader of the defense with 82 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
17 LSU Tigers (9-3)
It looked as if the sky was falling when LSU lost to Troy, but LSU got to nine wins on the season. Their record is a bit inflated, as they only beat two bowl eligible teams in Texas A&M and Auburn. This was still a decent start for Ed Orgeron in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers.
The offense has still been an issue, but they score over 28 points per game. They also have a good running game that is the strong point of their offense. Two running backs have done a lot of damage for LSU. Derrius Guice has battled injuries to rush for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. Darrel Williams has been a great backup with 776 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Danny Etling is a senior who has started a lot of games in the past two years for the Tigers. He won’t make the most plays, but protects the football and manages the game well. He has thrown for 2,234 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver D.J. Chark is a supreme talent who leads the team with 811 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The defense, like usual, carries the team and allows 18.8 points per game. They rank 21st against the run and 20th against the pass. Pass rusher Arden Key will be out for this game after having surgery on his pinky finger. Freshman defensive back Andraez Williams has five interceptions this season.
Both of these teams are solid, but LSU has the advantage. If they can stop the run and make Wimbush beat them, they will be able to win. The LSU running game can control the clock, which will make it hard for Notre Dame to catch up.
LSU Tigers 29 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21