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Bowl Projections: Wide Open Race Sees Auburn-Miami Matchup Hold Onto Slight Edge in Projections After Two Weeks

With college football season underway, the countdown to the 2018 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando. After two weeks of play, it’s time to take a look at which teams the college football media are predicting to meet on New Year’s Day at Camping World Stadium.

Though the Citrus Bowl has been a traditional Big Ten/SEC match-up for more than two decades, last season’s game featured the Louisville Cardinals, the first participant from the ACC since 1992. The Cardinals’ appearance against LSU (a 29-9 Tigers victory) was the result of the Citrus Bowl’s unique relationship with the Orange Bowl in Miami.

In years where the Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team (like last season, when it featured 2016 Citrus Bowl champion Michigan), the Citrus Bowl replaces the traditional Big Ten pick with the top non-Playoff selection from the ACC. As a result of that twist in the selection process, bowl projections now span a wide range of potential match-ups.

Kyle Bonagura (ESPN): Michigan vs. LSU
David M. Hale (ESPN): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): Florida State vs. Georgia
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Miami vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Miami vs. Auburn
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Florida State vs. Georgia
CollegeFootballNews.com: Notre Dame vs. LSU
Erick Smith (USA TODAY): Miami vs. Auburn

  • Auburn-Miami, Auburn-Virginia Tech and Florida State-Georgia are the popular projections for the second week in a row.
    • Both Miami and Florida State had their games canceled over the weekend due to Hurricane Irma, while Auburn stood firm in the projections after a close loss to defending national champion Clemson Tiger. Georgia knocked off a ranked Notre Dame team in South Bend.
    • Georgia and Auburn are familiar with the Citrus Bowl, earning a combined 11 appearances in the game all-time, including six in the past 17 matchups.
    • As noted in last week’s projections, there have been 11 prior meetings in both the Auburn-Miami and Florida State-Georgia matchups.
      • The Seminoles and Georgia met in FSU’s most recent Citrus Bowl appearance, in 1984. That game, which saw Florida State rally from a 14-0 deficit, ended in a 17-17 tie after Georgia kicker Kevin Butler’s 70-yard field goal attempt fell just short of the crossbar as time expired. “I’ve kicked ’em 72 yards in practice,” Butler told reporters after the game. “Everything was perfect . . . I knew I kicked it straight enough, but I couldn’t tell about the distance.”
        • The game marked the final tie in Citrus Bowl history.
        • Florida State and Georgia have met 11 times overall, with the Bulldogs leading the series 6-4-1.
        • They’ve only met once since the 1984 Citrus Bowl, with Georgia defeating the Seminoles 26-13 in the 2003 Sugar Bowl.
      • The last meeting between Miami and Auburn came over 30 years ago (a 20-18 Miami victory in the season-opening Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. in 1984).
      • The Tigers lead the all-time series 7-4, but the teams have never met in postseason play.
    • Auburn and Virginia Tech have squared off five times previously with Auburn holding a 3-1-1 edge.
      • The last meeting between the two came in the 2005 Sugar Bowl, where Auburn took a 16-0 lead into the fourth quarter and were able to fend off a late Virginia Tech rally to hold on for a 16-13 victory.
    • LSU was projected to return to the Citrus Bowl for the second straight season by ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and CollegeFootballNews.com
      • The Tigers would be the first team since Nebraska in 2012-13 to make repeat appearances in the bowl, and would look to become the first team since Wisconsin in 2006-07 to win the bowl game in back-to-back years.
      • Bonagura and CollegeFootballNews.com projected the Tigers to face Michigan and Notre Dame, respectively
        • LSU has have never faced the Wolverines on the gridiron, but holds a 6-5 lead all-time against the Fighting Irish
          • Three of the past four meetings in the series have come in bowl games. The most recent came in the 2014 Music City Bowl, where Notre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza knocked a 32-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to give the Fighting Irish a 31-28 victory.

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