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Bowl Projections: Could Miami Make an Orlando Return — in the Citrus Bowl?

With college football season in the home stretch, the countdown to the 2018 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando. After nine 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): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
David M. Hale (ESPN): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): Miami vs. Auburn
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Michigan State vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Miami vs. Auburn
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Michigan State vs. LSU
CollegeFootballNews.com: NC State vs. LSU
Brett McMurphy: Miami vs. Auburn

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
  • 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
  • The Hokies and the Tigers couldhave the potential to become a low-scoring matchup as both teams have strong, top 15 defenses – Virginia Tech at No. 13 and Auburn at No. 9
  • That said, both offenses are fairly strong, as well, with Auburn standing at No. 27 in the nation in total offense and No. 25 in scoring (462.4 yards and 36.3 points per game), while Virginia Tech ranks 32nd and 29th, respectively (446.5 and 35.4)

Miami vs. Auburn

  • This would be the 12th meeting between the programs
  • Auburn owns the series record 7-4, but Miami won the last two games, in 1978 and 1984
  • Auburn has the third-most appearances in the Citrus Bowl with five and boasts a 3-2 record in the game
  • Miami has never played in a Citrus Bowl game, but has a 3-2 record in the Camping World Bowl, tying the ‘Canes with NC State for most appearances in the bowl’s history
  • Both teams are moving the ball well — Miami averages 465.6 yards per game and Auburn averages 462.4 – but Auburn’s defense is more dominant at No. 13 in FBS (302.8 yards allowed per game), while Miami is No. 52 total defense (377.4)

Michigan State 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
  • Like the Tigers, the Spartans have a strong D, ranking 8th in total defense (283.4 yards per game)
The 1995 Independence Bowl, the only time Michigan State and LSU have met and a 45-26 Tiger victory

Michigan State vs. LSU

  • Teams met one time previously in the 1995 Independence Bowl, a 45-26 Tigers victory
  • 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)
  • LSU is stronger on the ground than through the air, averaging 216.3 rushing yards per game, but will be put to the test against Michigan State’s rushing defense, which ranks fourth nationally, allowing an average of 89.8 yards per game

NC State vs. LSU

  • No previous matchups between the programs; Virginia and Pitt are the only other ACC schools the Tigers have never faced on the gridiron
  • NC State played in the Citrus Bowl in 1978, where it beat Pittsburgh 30-17
  • Although they only have the one appearance in the Citrus Bowl, the Wolfpack have played five times in the Camping World Bowl and hold a 3-2 record in the game
  • LSU is tied for No. 22 in the nation in total defense at 319.3 yards allowed per game, which may come in handy against a Wolfpack team that averages 441.9 yards of offense and has a quarterback who has only thrown one interception since November of last season (it came in Week 9, against Notre Dame)

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