Preseason Bowl Projections: Miami Leads the Pack; Three-Team Tie Atop SEC Side
The start of the college football season means that the countdown to the 2018 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando. Before a single ball is snapped, it’s time to take a look at which teams the college football media are predicting to meet on New Year’s Day in Camping World Stadium.
Though the Citrus Bowl has been a traditional Big Ten/SEC match-up for over 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 Tiger victory) was the result of the bowl’s unique match-up relationship with the Orange Bowl in Miami.
In years where the Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team (like last season when they 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.
Mark Schlabach (ESPN): Miami vs. Florida
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): North Carolina State vs. Mississippi State
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Miami vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Wisconsin vs. Florida
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
David Kenyon (Bleacher Report): Miami vs. LSU
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Notre Dame vs. Florida
Steve Lassan (Athlon Sports): Miami vs. Georgia
Matt Brown (Sports on Earth): Wisconsin vs. Georgia
CollegeFootballNews: Louisville vs. Auburn
Erick Smith (USA Today): Miami vs. Auburn
- The Miami Hurricanes are the top projected team to appear in the Citrus Bowl according to the media, receiving a spot in 45% (5 of 11) of our members’ projections.
- It would be the Hurricanes first Citrus Bowl appearance in program history but not their first postseason game in Orlando. Miami has played in the Camping World Bowl three times previously, most recently last year in a winning effort against West Virginia.
- As the only Big Ten team to appear in the preseason projections, Wisconsin is projected to face Florida and Georgia. The Badgers and Gators have never squared off on the gridiron but the ‘Dawgs hold a 2-0 advantage over Wisconsin with both wins coming in the Outback Bowl (1998 & 2005).
- One other Midwestern football team made it into projections, however. As a member of the ACC’s bowl selection pool, Notre Dame is available for the Citrus Bowl slot and is projected there by the hometown Orlando Sentinel. The matchup of Notre Dame and Florida would be their second-ever meeting, behind a Fighting Irish win in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
- Florida, Georgia, and Auburn tie for the most projections from the SEC. The three teams are no stranger to the Citrus Bowl; Florida and Georgia each have a bowl-high six appearances in the game while Auburn is right behind them with five Citrus Bowl appearances.
- The only matchup predicted more than once was Miami against Auburn. The Tigers and Hurricanes have met 11 times previously, with Auburn holding a 7-4 edge. Only one of their 11 meetings came at a neutral site: a Miami 20-18 victory in the season-opening Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. in 1984.
- LSU, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech each received a spot in one projection.
- An LSU appearance would make the Tigers the 14th team to appear in back-to-back Citrus Bowls in bowl history and the first to do so since Nebraska did it in 2012-13.
- Eric Single of Sports Illustrated projected NC State and Mississippi State to square off in the bowl. The two programs hold a 3-3 tie in the all-time series with the most recent three matchups coming in three different bowl games (Liberty, Peach, Belk)
- Jason Kirk of SB Nation was the only member of our spotlighted media to project Virginia Tech. It would be the Hokies first appearance in the Citrus Bowl, but not their first time in Orlando. Virginia Tech knocked off Rutgers in the 2012 Camping World Bowl (then-Russell Athletic Bowl) and fell to eventual national champions Clemson in the ACC Championship at Camping World Stadium last season. Kirk projects the Hokies against Georgia, who holds a 2-1 record in the series (with all three games being played in the the state of Georgia).