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Week 8 Bowl Projections: Wisconsin, Penn State emerge as popular picks

College football season is well underway, and the countdown to the 2019 Citrus Bowl continues 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.

Here’s a look at the media’s Citrus Bowl picks after Week 8:

Mitch Sherman (ESPN): Penn State vs. Florida
Kyle Bonagura (ESPN): Iowa vs. Kentucky
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): Penn State vs. Texas A&M
Jason Kirk (SBNation): Penn State vs. Kentucky
Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Wisconsin vs. Florida
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Iowa vs. Kentucky
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Iowa vs. Texas A&M
Brent McMurphy (Stadium): Wisconsin vs. Kentucky
CollegeFootballNews.com: Penn State vs. Kentucky
Brad Crawford (247 Sports): Wisconsin vs. Kentucky
Erick Smith (USA Today): Wisconsin vs. Florida
Kerry Miller (Bleacher Report): Penn State vs. Texas A&M

Florida topped Penn State 21-6 in the 1998 Citrus Bowl.

Penn State vs. Florida

• Penn State and Florida have met three times previously, with the Gators defeating Penn State in all three matchups.
• This would be a rematch of the 1998 Citrus Bowl, which Florida won 21-6 in front of a Citrus Bowl-record crowd of 72,940.
• The most recent meeting between the Gators and Nittany Lions came in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Florida won the game 37-24.
• The Gators last played in the Citrus Bowl in 2016 and lost to Michigan 41-7.

Iowa vs. Kentucky

• Iowa has only made one previous appearance in the Citrus Bowl – a 30-25 victory over LSU thanks to a last-second hail mary in the 2005 game.
• This could be a low-scoring affair, as Kentucky ranks second in the nation in points allowed (12.9) while Iowa ranks fifth (14.1).
• This would also pit one of the nation’s fiercest run games (Kentucky) against one of the toughest run defenses (Iowa). Kentucky is currently averaging 231.6 rushing yards a game, led by Benny Snell Jr. (124 yards per game), while Iowa’s run defense has allowed only 79.6 yards a game.

Penn State vs. Texas A&M

• Penn State and Texas A&M have met four times, with Penn State holding a 3-1 all-time series lead.
• The two teams have met twice on neutral ground (1999, 2007 Alamo Bowl). The Nittany Lions won both games.
• The Aggies have not appeared in the Citrus Bowl, but Texas A&M has only been a member of the SEC since 2012.
• Two schools from the Texas A&M University System have appeared in the game. West Texas State (now known as West Texas A&M) defeated Mississippi Southern (now Southern Miss) in the 1957 Tangerine Bowl, while East Texas State (now Texas A&M University–Commerce) appeared in four Tangerine Bowls in the 1950s, going 3-0-1.

Penn State vs. Kentucky

Kentucky running back Benny Snell is among the nation’s top backs, averaging 124 rushing yards per game through Week 8.

• Penn State has a slight edge over Kentucky, holding a 3-2 all-time series lead.
• The last time these two teams met was in the 1999 Outback Bowl. The Nittany Lions won the game 26-14.
• Penn State has appeared in the Citrus Bowl five times and has a 2-3 record in those games.
• The Nittany Lions won their most recent visit to the Citrus Bowl in 2010, defeating LSU 19-17.
• Kentucky has never played in the Citrus Bowl and has not won a bowl game since the Wildcats defeated East Carolina in the 2009 Liberty Bowl.

Wisconsin vs. Florida

• This would be the first matchup between Wisconsin and Florida.
• Florida is tied with Georgia with a record six Citrus Bowl appearances. The Gators hold a 2-4 record in those games.
• Wisconsin has made five Citrus Bowl appearances, including three victories. The Badgers’ most recent appearance in Orlando was a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the 2014 game, known at the time as the Capital One Bowl.

Iowa vs. Texas A&M

• These two teams last met in 1931; the Aggies defeated the Hawkeyes 29-0.
• Rushing yards could be hard to come by in this matchup, as Iowa is tied for second nationally in run defense (79.6 yards), while Texas A&M is ranked fourth (81.6 yards).

Wisconsin vs. Kentucky

• The Badgers and Wildcats have only met once, in the 1984 Hall of Fame Classic. Kentucky won the game 20-19.
• In Wisconsin’s 2006 appearance (a 24-10 win over Auburn), Brian Calhoun ran for 213 yards, second-most in Citrus Bowl history. In that same game, Brandon Williams had 173 yards receiving, fourth-most in the game’s history.
• In Wisconsin’s 2007 appearance against Arkansas, Taylor Mehlhaff hit a 52-yard field goal, a Citrus Bowl record.
• In Wisconsin’s 2014 loss to South Carolina, Kenzel Doe returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, the most recent kick return touchdown in Citrus Bowl history.
• The Badgers also rushed for 293 yards in that 2014 game, making them the most recent team to rush for 200 or more yards in a Citrus Bowl game.

Click here to check out weekly projections from earlier this season.

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