The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication
A bit of an added bonus to this bowl preview, along with the other five members of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games. In addition to the usual spread and total paragraphs we have in these previews, we’ll have a quote from one of the guys over at Sportsline, giving you some things they’re thinking about heading into these games. You’ll see it at the bottom of the post here and you can see more from the guys over at the site.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
#17 LSU (9-3) vs. #14 Notre Dame (9-3)
Spread: LSU -3
Spread: These two teams are all about running the football and stopping the run but they do it in different ways on offense. LSU runs more of a pro-style, singleback or I-formation attack with junior Derrius Guice getting the most carries (216) for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Darrell Williams spells him, and has recorded over 700 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. QB Danny Etling isn’t asked to throw many passes (22 attempts per game) but has been fairly accurate (60 percent) and been good at not turning the ball over, as he threw just two picks this season. He is coming off his most prolific passing game of the year in the season finale against Texas A&M, as he completed 19 of 30 passes for 347 yards and three TDs.
On defense, the Tigers held opponents under 19 points and 320 yards per game this season, playing well against the run (126 YPG) and the pass (185 YPG 52.9%). Sophomore LB Devin White led the team with 127 tackles, 12.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. DE/LB Arden Key struggled with injuries most of the year, but he is a force off the edge and DT Greg Gilmore is tough to move inside (9 TFL 6.5 sacks).
They’ll face a Notre Dame rushing attack that is a little more varied, incorporating spread-option style concepts with straight up power runs. RB Josh Adams had a terrific season carrying the ball 191 times for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. However, the Tigers will also have to account for QB Brandon Wimbush, who wasn’t a huge threat through the air (49%, 1,818 yards 16 TD 6 INT), but was a big threat with his legs topping 700 yards and recording 14 touchdowns on the ground. They work behind an offensive line that was considered at times to be one of the best in the country and the ground game helped the offense average over 35 points and 450 yards per game.
Defensively, the Irish were stingy, allowing just 21 points and 360 yards per game. Opponents did have more success against them on the ground (153 YPG 4 yards per carry) than teams did against LSU.
The records were similar this year ATS, with LSU going 7-4-1 and Notre Dame going 7-5. The Irish were never underdogs this season, while LSU was 5-4-1 as a favorite. They also covered in each of their last six games while Notre Dame finished the season going 0-4 ATS. It will be a hard-fought game, but LSU takes it. LSU -3
Total: With this game being largely focused on the run-game and defense, the under looks to be the better play as the teams combined to go 11-12 vs. the number this season. With two tough defenses squaring off against solid running games, this game could go by quickly with a low final score. Under 51.5
Sportsline Expert: “LSU ended the regular season on a high; Notre Dame, not so much. Momentum, or lack thereof, can peter out during the long pre-bowls break. The shootouts that spice up the college postseason likely won’t happen here, with both defenses stout against the rush and both offenses relying on the ground game.”- Mike “Top Dog” Tierney, Sportsline Expert