As the 2015 season draws closer, several media members have made preseason bowl projections. Here’s a quick look at what the experts are predicting for the 70th game in Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl history:
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
Ralph Russo (AP Sports): Wisconsin vs. LSU
Mark Schlabach (ESPN): Penn State vs. LSU
Brett McMurphy (ESPN): Wisconsin vs. LSU
Steven Lassan (Athlon Sports): Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
Brian Pedersen (Bleacher Report): Florida State vs. Missouri
The two teams that appear most often in these early projections are Wisconsin (4) and LSU (3). Two of six sources have this matchup projected in the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Wisconsin welcomes a new head coach with high expectations this season following an 11-3 record and Big Ten West Division championship. LSU is coming off of an 8-5 season. These two teams have only met three times (never in Orlando) and LSU has won all three. The last matchup came just last year in Houston, when the Tigers rallied to a 28-24 win to kick off the 2014-15 season. Wisconsin has made three previous appearances in Orlando on New Year’s Day and holds a 2-1 record, with their most recent appearance in 2013-14 against South Carolina. LSU has appeared in the Citrus Bowl twice and have not yet tasted victory in Orlando. The Tigers’ most recent appearance was in 2009-10 against Penn State.
Tennessee is another popular preseason prediction with two selections (both against Wisconsin, coincidentally). The Volunteers are looking to return to New Year’s Day after a 7-6 record in 2014-15. They have appeared in the Citrus Bowl five times and has a 4-1 record, tied with Georgia for the most in bowl history. The Vols’ last appearance in Orlando came in 2000-01 when they defeated Michigan, 45-17.
Penn State is the only other Big Ten team projected to make it to Orlando this season. Like Tennessee, the Nittany Lions had a 7-6 record last season. Penn State has also played in the Citrus Bowl five times and hold an all-time record of 2-3. Their most recent appearance was the aforementioned 2009-10 game against LSU, which they won 19-17.
Bleacher Report predicted back-to-back appearances for the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou was 11-3 last year and defeated Minnesota 33-17. It was their second appearance and second win in the Citrus Bowl game. The last team to make consecutive appearances in Orlando on New Year’s Day was the Tigers’ old Big 12 North foe, Nebraska (2012 and 2013). Missouri has never appeared in the same bowl game two years in a row.
The other half of Bleacher Report’s prediction, Florida State, is not possible for this season. The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl does feature a SEC vs. Big Ten/ACC matchup, but the opportunity for an ACC team to play in the game only happens when a Big Ten team appears in a non-semifinal Orange Bowl in Miami. Because the Orange Bowl is hosting a College Football Playoff semifinal this season, that clause cannot be triggered and thus the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl is guaranteed to feature a Big Ten team this season.