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Preseason Bowl Projections: Auburn, Michigan State among popular preseason picks

College football season is underway, and the countdown to the 2019 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando.

Though the Citrus Bowl has been a traditional Big Ten/SEC match-up for more than two decades, last season’s game featured the Notre Dame fighting Irish, the second participant affiliated with the ACC since 1992. Notre Dame’s appearance against LSU (a 21-17 Fighting Irish 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 Wisconsin), the Citrus Bowl replaces its traditional Big Ten pick with the top non-Playoff selection from the ACC. This season, the Orange Bowl is hosting a CFP semifinal game, meaning the Citrus Bowl is guaranteed to host a Big Ten-SEC matchup.

Mitch Sherman (ESPN): Penn State vs. Auburn
Kyle Bonagura (ESPN): Michigan State vs. Auburn
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Michigan State vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Penn State vs. Auburn
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Michigan vs. Mississippi State
Kenny Miller (Bleacher Report): Michigan vs. Mississippi State
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
Steve Lassan (Athlon Sports): Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
CollegeFootballNews.com: Penn State vs. South Carolina
USA Today: Michigan vs. Auburn
247Sports: Penn State vs. South Carolina
Stewart Mandel (The Athletic): Auburn vs. Ohio State

• Auburn was the most popular choice to play in the 2018 Citrus Bowl, being included in 50 percent of expert picks.
– This would mark Auburn’s sixth appearance in the Citrus Bowl
– Auburn is 3-2 all-time when playing in the Citrus Bowl

• Michigan State and Penn State are currently viewed as the two favorites from the Big Ten, according to local and national media. Both teams were included in four expert projections.
– If the Spartans make it to the Citrus Bowl it would mark their fourth appearance in the Orlando bowl game.
– The Nittany Lions would be making their sixth appearance in the bowl after defeating LSU on a last minute field goal in the 2010 game.

• Mississippi State was included in four preseason media projections. A trip to Orlando this winter would mark the Bulldogs’ first ever appearance in the Citrus Bowl.
– Two separate projections feature Mississippi State and Michigan State squaring off. The Bulldogs and the Spartans have only met four times and have not met since 1947.
– Two separate projections also included a Mississippi State-Michigan matchup in the Citrus Bowl. The Bulldogs and the Wolverines have only met one time, as Mississippi State defeated Michigan 52-14 in the 2011 Gator Bowl.

• Michigan received a spot in three preseason media projections. The Wolverines are 4-1 in five Citrus Bowl appearances. Most recently, the Wolverines defeated Florida 41-7 in the 2016 Citrus Bowl.

• South Carolina received a spot in two projections, both pitting them against Penn State. The Gamecocks and the Nittany Lions have only played twice, once in 1940 and once in 1941 with Penn State winning both matchups.

• Ohio State appears in one bowl projection and is matched up against Auburn. The Buckeyes are 1-3 in four Citrus Bowl appearances to date — the most recent coming in the 1996 game, against Peyton Manning and Tennessee — and have only played Auburn once before, in 1990.

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