For the 48th time in school history, the LSU Tigers will appear in a bowl game, this time against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who will be making their 36th bowl appearance. If it seems that this déjà vu of sorts, it is, as these two teams have appeared against each other three times before with the Irish winning the last contest, the Music City Bowl in 2014, 31-28. Prior to that, LSU had won the two post-season contests between these two teams.
Both teams enter the Citrus Bowl at 9-3, with the Tigers taking two early season losses, including one to Troy, which dropped them to 3-2. Yet, they rallied to win six of their final seven games, only falling to Alabama to earn a spot in a premier bowl game.
Notre Dame was on the fast track to one of the four spots in the college football championship. They were 8-1 and had only suffered a loss to Georgia, strengthening their position. However, crushing defeats to Miami and Stanford dropped the Fighting Irish to 9-3, relegating them to a less flashy bowl appearance.
Tigers vs. Fighting Irish
Spread: LSU -3 ( -115); Notre Dame +3 ( -105) Get the latest CBB odds direct from Las Vegas with WagerTalk Live Lines
Moneyline: LSU -157; Notre Dame +137
Totals: Over/Under 51.5 (-110)
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Tigers, as many predicted them to go no further than eight victories under Ed Orgeron in his first season as the full-time head coach at LSU. However, he proved that the 6-2 run that the team put together at the end of last season was no fluke and now finds himself with an overall record with the Tigers of 15-5 and a bowl victory.
Why LSU Will Win?
Surprisingly, Derrius Guice has decided to play in this contest, despite the fact that many believed that he would pull a Leonard Fournette, and choose to sit out the contest to ensure that an injury did not stand in the way of the lucrative NFL deal. Notre Dame has a very difficult time trying to stop the running game, and so there is no doubt that he should have a huge contest against the Irish. One would not be surprised to see Orgeron hand the ball to Guice 30 times in this contest, which is another reason why many believed he would never suit up in this game.
LSU has been extremely stingy and giving away the ball this season, as quarterback Danny Etling has thrown just four interceptions and they have given the ball away just eight times this year. When the Tigers record more turnovers than their offense gives up any game they are 6-0 this season.
The Tigers secondary is exceptional, allowing an average of 185 yards per game. Notre Dame has a great deal of difficulty throwing the ball, completing just 51% of their passes this year, which should mean that LSU should be able to turn the Irish offense into a one-dimensional attack.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Brian Kelly has had a tumultuous career as the head coach of the Fighting Irish, posting a 68-34 record and even battling for a spot in the national playoffs in four of his eight seasons as the head coach, but there have also been some rather abysmal seasons, including last year. Kelly did a nice job of turning this team around, but he is going to need to start getting the Irish in the same position as an Ohio State, Oklahoma, or Miami each season if he is going to keep this job.
Why the Irish Will Win?
One thing that you can count on is that Notre Dame can run the ball. It is true that LSU has an outstanding defense against the pass, but when you have an outstanding running back in Josh Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush who combined to rush for over 2200 yards the season, it is easy to see how a passing attack becomes almost secondary.
LSU is going to have a hard time stopping the run, especially considering that two of their starting linebackers, as well as one of their premier defensive ends, are going to be out. This should create a lot of opportunities for Adams to have a huge day, and expect him to do just that.
One area where Notre Dame is by far better than LSU is in special teams. A lot of times, a closely matched contest comes down to the kickers, and Justin Yoon has nailed 12 of his 16 attempts to the season, including six of his last seven. Should this be a game that is decided by less than seven points then this is a huge advantage for the Irish.
Tigers vs. Fighting Irish Betting Lines
This is a contest between two teams that closed out the regular season in opposite ways. The Tigers were on a roll while the Irish were stumbling, but that was a month ago. A lot has happened in that time, and you have to expect that the Irish will be much better prepared. Take Notre Dame and the points in a game the Irish win 31-28.
My Pick: Notre Dame +3 ( -105)
Totals: Over 51.5 (-110)
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