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Bowl Projections: Back in Top 25, LSU Gains Steam as Media’s Citrus Bowl Pick

With college football season more than halfway in the books, the countdown to the 2018 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando. After eight 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 State vs. Auburn
David M. Hale (ESPN): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Michigan State vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Notre Dame vs. LSU
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Virginia Tech vs. LSU
CollegeFootballNews.com: NC State vs. LSU
Brett McMurphy: Michigan State vs. Auburn

Michigan State vs. Auburn

On Jan. 1, 1938, Michigan Staet made its very first bowl appearance in the Orange Bowl vs. Auburn.
  • Only time programs met was in the 1938 Orange Bowl, where Auburn won 6-0 — the lowest-scoring game in Orange Bowl history
  • Despite the score, that 1938 Orange Bowl was not as close as it appears: Auburn outgained Michigan State in total yards, 278-67 in front of a sellout crowd at Miami’s brand-new $360,000 Roddy Burdine Stadium. (In 1959 it was renamed the Orange Bowl.)
  • The 1938 game marked Michigan State’s very first bowl game; the Spartans have played in six more Florida bowl games since, including the 2000, 2009 and 2011 Citrus Bowls
  • The Spartans went 1-2 in those Citrus Bowl games, defeating Florida 37-34 in the 2000 edition before falling to Georgia (24-12) and Alabama (49-7) in 2009 and 2011, respectively
  • Michigan State also appeared in the 2007 Camping World Bowl in Orlando, where it lost 24-21 to Boston College

Virginia Tech vs. Auburn

  • Teams have met five times, and Auburn leads the series 3-1-1
  • Last played in 2005 Sugar Bowl, with No. 3 Auburn defeating No. 9 Virginia Tech 16-13 to complete an undefeated season; eventual BCS champ USC ultimately had its title vacated due to NCAA violations

Notre Dame vs. LSU

  • Teams have met 11 times previously, including three bowl game matchups
  • The Irish own a 6-5 record against the Tigers and were victorious in their last meeting, in the 2014 Music City Bowl
  • The schools also met in the 2007 Sugar Bowl and the 1997 Independence Bowl, both Tigers wins
LSU celebrates its 29-9 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in last year’s Citrus Bowl.

Virginia Tech vs. LSU

  • The Hokies and the Tigers have a tied all-time series record of 1-1
  • Their last meeting was in 2007, a 48-7 Tigers win
  • Virginia Tech has played in Orlando several times before, including the 2012 Camping World Bowl (a 13-10 win over Rutgers), the 2016 ACC Championship Game at Camping World Stadium, a 2000 road game against UCF and a 1991 neutral-site game against top-ranked Florida State
  • LSU holds a 2-2 record in the Citrus Bowl, including losses to Penn State (2010) and Iowa (2005) and wins against Wake Forest (1979) and Louisville (2016)

NC State vs. LSU

  • No previous matchups between the programs
  • NC State played in the Citrus Bowl in 1978, where it beat Pittsburgh 30-17
  • Although they only appeared once in the Citrus Bowl, the Wolfpack played five times in the Camping World Bowl and hold a 3-2 record in the game

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