LSU Tigers (7-4 SU, 5-6-0 ATS, 2-7-2 O/U) vs Louisville Cardinals (9-3 SU, 5-6-1 ATS, 8-4-0 O/U)
When: 11:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 31, 2016
Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida
Lines: LSU -3.5
It’s the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and the 20th ranked LSU Tigers will grapple with the 13th ranked Louisville Cardinals at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The LSU Tigers come into this game at 7-4 and had much higher hopes than a Citrus Bowl berth, inconsistencies at the beginning of the year took care of that. The Louisville Cardinals are at 9-3 on the year and had hopes of a berth in the NCAA playoffs, but they lost their last two games of the regular season and here they are in a much lesser bowl.
The Tigers Made It Official With Orgeron
The LSU Tigers were 2-2 at the beginning of the year and following a loss to Auburn on the road, they fired longtime coach Les Miles and promoted Ed Orgeron to interim coach. Well, they made it official before their final game of the regular season that Orgeron would be back as their head coach next year. He is hoping for better results than he has when coach of Ole Miss as he went just 10-25 in three year there. His last two coaching stints were as an interim coach and he went 6-2 at USC and 5-2 here at LSU. He is well liked among the players and is a very good recruiter and the Tigers are hoping that he puts them back into elite status.
The Tigers averaged just 21 ppg in their four games under Miles, but they put up 28.4 ppg in the eight games under Orgeron. LSU struggled in their two games vs Alabama and Florida and while the Cards played very good defense for most of the year, they have struggled of late and LSU just may be able to take advantage of that. Coming into the year, it was thought that Leonard Fournette would be one of the Heisman finalists and while he has had a decent year, it has been Derrius Guice that has led the team in rushing with 1249 yards and 14 TDs. Still, they have a nice one-two punch and will look to use that here to loosen up the Cardinal defense and allow Danny Etling to hit some big plays downfield. The Tigers are just 101st in the nation in passing, but 20th in rushing, while putting up 28.3 ppg, which is 67th in the land. The defense has been very solid for them this year as they are 13th in total yards allowed, 31st vs the pass, 16th vs the run and 6th in points allowed, giving up just 16.4 ppg.
Lamar Jackson Looks To Finish The Season Strong
Is the Heisman Lamar Jackson’s? It should be even though he struggled down the stretch. Lamar has put up some monster numbers, but the Cards did lose their last two games of the regular season and many feel that has close the gap some in the Heisman race. I feel that he should still win it. Jackson threw for 3390 yards with 30 TDs and just nine INTs, while also rushing for 1538 yards and 21 more TDs. Amazing. He has beaten up just about every defense he has faced, but this will be the toughest test for him yet. His worst game of the year was at Houston as he hit just 46.5% of his passes for just 211 yards, while also rushing for a mere 33 yards. His 2nd worst game was the following week vs Kentucky, in which he threw for 281 yards, but had three INTs to just two TDs.
They lost both those games and are now at 9-3 on the year. You can bet that Jackson will be looking to make amends for his poor finish, but it will not be easy vs a very strong LSU defense. If he does have a big game then they will probably win the game, but if he struggles again, then they will be in trouble. The Cardinals have the second-best offense in the nation overall and they are 14th in passing, 10th in rushing and 1st in scoring, putting up 45.3 ppg. On defense, they allowed 77 points in their last two games, but still come in ranked 11th in total yards allowed, 38th vs the pass, 10th vs the run and 34th in points allowed, giving up just 23.4 ppg. They will need their run defense to really step up here.s
- 1-4 ATS last 5 bowl games.
- 16-7 ATS last 23 following a SU loss.
- 13-4 ATS last 17 as an underdog.
The LSU tigers have been a good team down the stretch of the season, while the Cardinals have struggled. The Tigers are a very good defensive team but Lamar Jackson has picked apart just about every defense that he has faced this year and he will be looking to make amends for his poor showing down the stretch. He is probably going to win the Heisman, but will not be happy with just that. I look for him to do just enough here vs this LSU defense to get the outright win.
Pick: Louisville +3.5
The LSU defense has been strong all year, while the Louisville defense has been strong except for the last two weeks of the season. Still, the LSU offense has been more wide open under Orgeron and the Cards can be thrown on, especially if LSU gets their strong ground attack going. Louisville has been one of the best offenses in the nation all year long and Lamar Jackson does not want to end the season with his thirst straight clunker. The time offense will really help both offenses. Neither team can win it all so both will just look to score and score. Very little defense in this one.