Nov 08, 2017

Week 10 Bowl Projections: A Possible Rematch of our 2003 Game as Penn State Gets Added into the Mix

With college football season more than halfway in the books, the countdown to the 2018 Citrus Bowl has begun in Orlando. After 10 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): NC State vs. Auburn
David M. Hale (ESPN): Penn State vs. Auburn
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated): Penn State vs. Auburn
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com): Ohio State vs. Auburn
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Michigan State vs. Auburn
Jason Kirk (SB Nation): Penn State vs. South Carolina
CollegeFootballNews.com: NC State vs. LSU
Brett McMurphy: Northwestern vs. Mississippi State

NC State vs. Auburn

  • Programs have played twice previously and each has a win over each other
  • Both games were played at Auburn, the first a 17-15 Wolfpack win in 1977 and the second a 44-31 Tigers win in 1979
  • 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
  • Auburn is tied with the third-most appearances in the Citrus Bowl with five and boasts a 3-2 record in the game
  • The Wolfpack rely heavily on their No. 25 passing offense (286.8 yards per game) but could be challenged by a 20th-ranked Tigers unit that allows just 180.8 passing yards per game

Penn State vs. Auburn

2003 Citrus Bowl MVP Ronnie Brown

  • This matchup would be a repeat of our 2003 Citrus Bowl, then known as the Capital One Bowl
  • Auburn edged Penn State 13-9, and running back Ronnie Brown was the game’s MVP after rushing for 184 yards and two touchdowns
  • Besides the Citrus Bowl, the Nittany Lions and the Tigers have faced off one other time — in the 1996 Outback Bowl in Tampa, a 43-14 Penn State victory
  • Penn State and Auburn are tied for third-most appearances in the Citrus Bowl with five each
  • Auburn’s No. 22 offense is averaging 466.1 total yards per game, while Penn State’s No. 25 defense has only been allowing 331.4 yards per game

Ohio State vs. Auburn

Head coach Pat Dye after Auburn’s 31-14 victory over Ohio State in the 1990 Outback Bowl

  • Programs have met twice previously, including a scoreless tie in 1917
  • The second meeting came in the 1990 Outback Bowl, then known as the Hall of Fame Bowl, where Auburn beat the Buckeyes 31-14
  • Ohio State holds a 1-3 record in the Citrus Bowl and its last appearance was in 1996, a 20-14 loss to Tennessee
  • The Buckeyes’ fifth-ranked scoring offense, which is averaging 43.8 points per game, would make for an interesting matchup against Auburn’s ninth-ranked scoring defense (16.9 points per game)

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 the building 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 fell to Boston College, 24-21
  • Like the Tigers, the Spartans have a strong D, ranking 12th in total defense (303.7 yards per game)

Penn State vs. South Carolina

  • Penn State holds a 2-0 series record over South Carolina, including a 19-12 win in Columbia in 1941, the most recent meeting between the schools
  • South Carolina has played in the Citrus Bowl 3 times previously and holds a 2-1 all-time record
  • Their most recent game here was in 2014, when the Gamecocks defeated Wisconsin 34-24
  • South Carolina’s defense allows just 149.2 rushing yards per game (a top-50 ranking, nationally), but Penn State boasts Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley; the Nittany Lions also have a potent passing attack (291.3 yards per game), led by quarterback Trace McSorley

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
  • 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 ranks No. 17 among FBS schools in total defense at 317.0 yards allowed per game

Mississippi State vs. Northwestern

Northwestern celebrating its 34-20 win over Mississippi State in the 2013 Gator Bowl

  • Schools have met one time, in the 2013 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville
  • Northwestern defeated the Bulldogs 34-20
  • Mississippi State has not played in either of our bowl games, and Northwestern lost in its only Citrus Bowl appearance — a 48-28 defeat against Peyton Manning and Tennessee in 1997
  • One of Northwestern’s strengths this season is its No. 12 rushing defense (117.3 yards per game), which could match up well with Mississippi State’s 11th-ranked rushing offense (259.3 yards per game)

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