It’s All LSU Tigers at the 2018 Citrus Bowl in Orlando

With college football in the air, it’s time for our annual Buffalo Wild Wings 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction! Not that we’ve been very good at it, but we certainly still enjoy taking a stab at it and having fun. Vacation rentals are a fan favorite of Citrus Bowl guests during the New Year.

This we do know for sure. According to the Citrus Bowl’s official website, the game is returning to its usual New Year’s Day time slot at 1:00 EST and will air on ABC. Last year, you may recall the game was played on New Year’s Eve. Camping World Stadium will again play host to Orlando’s annual showcase event.

The Citrus Bowl Orlando

The Citrus Bowl is usually a matchup between two of the top teams from the SEC and the Big Ten. However, there are scenarios that impact our 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction. For instance, it could be the SEC versus an ACC team, such as last year’s LSU versus Louisville match up.  

citrus bowl 2018

Citrus Bowl 2018

Again, according to the Citrus Bowl website, an ACC team can be invited in the event a Big Ten team is assigned to play in a “non-semifinal” Orange Bowl. In that scenario, the Citrus Bowl would play host to “the top non-CFP selection. This would be the ACC against the top non-CFP selection from the SEC.”

Ultimately, for all of the bowl games, it comes down to what happens at the very top.  This is when the “top four” ranked teams are assigned to match up in the playoff semifinals. For 2018, the Sugar Bowl will play host to the #1 seed versus the #4 seed, while the Rose Bowl will feature the #2 and #3 seeds. The winners will advance to compete in the National Championship game in Atlanta on January 8, 2018.

Since the Orange Bowl is officially a “non-semifinal” bowl game this year, that would open the door for the Citrus Bowl to choose an ACC team. In reality however, perhaps the best analogy for the bowl selection process is trickle down economics in its truest form. Fortunately for the Citrus Bowl, they have earned their place high atop the pecking order. This is thanks to their sunny location, and longevity, amidst an ever changing bowl landscape.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get down to picking our teams. The first order of business is to project which four teams will make the playoff semifinals and go from there for our 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction.

2018 Citrus Bowl Prediction

According to a friend’s doberman pinscher (who I’ve had the pleasure of watching many games with), one tap of the paw would send Alabama to the Sugar Bowl as the top seed, and two taps would send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl as the second seed. Three taps of the paw would match up Southern Cal against Ohio State, while four taps would send Florida State to the Big Easy to take on the Crimson Tide. Since both and are predicting the exact same matchups (go ahead look it up!), we’re also going with Jenna the Doberman.

Now let’s take a look at the SEC for our 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction. The Citrus Bowl knows that SEC fans travel well and many of the schools are in close proximity to Orlando already. However, even if it were an SEC West team (such as LSU last year), they know the buses are still coming in groves. So that means a lot in terms of extending an invitation to the best team available, as opposed to just the closest in order to fill the stadium.

Still, let’s attempt to go thru the logical educated progression of the selection process. We’ll go ahead and put Bama in the Sugar Bowl. With their last second loss to Clemson last year, the Crimson Tide will be out for revenge this year, and that’s just plain scary to even think about. 

That brings us to the task of trying to predict the 2nd place finisher in the SEC, which certainly isn’t easy. Many sports writers are predicting Auburn or LSU in the West, and Florida or Georgia in the East. Not unlike other years, but still anything can happen. The Hogs and Aggies are hoping for bigger things this year, and Tennessee could be a sleeping giant as well. There’s also the variable that the Orange Bowl could snag the “next best” team in the SEC.

Some key matchups to consider are LSU must travel to Florida and Tennessee, but they catch West rivals Auburn, Texas A&M, and Arkansas all at Tiger Stadium. Even if LSU were to lose to Alabama at Tuscaloosa, they still stand a good chance of finishing 2nd in the SEC West given their home field advantage against the other top teams in the West. 

However, would losses on the road to either Florida and/or Tennessee be enough to turn Citrus Bowl officials the other way? After what LSU did to Louisville last year, along with the number of fans they brought to Orlando, we think the Citrus Bowl would roll out the red carpet for their defending champions, provided of course the Orange Bowl didn’t swipe up the Bayou Bengals first.

Albeit difficult, we’re projecting our final SEC prognosis to be Alabama to the Sugar Bowl, Florida to the Orange Bowl, and LSU returns to the Citrus Bowl to play (drum roll please) … Clemson! 

First, we believe that Ohio State will play up to expectations and make the Rose Bowl. If Florida State does the same in route to the Sugar Bowl, that would open the door for the Orange Bowl to extend an invitation to a highly ranked Big Ten team.  This might be Michigan or Penn State to take on Florida, a team that many feel will win the SEC East. That would leave the Orange Bowl licking it’s chops to get the home state Gators and the 2nd place team out of the Big Ten.

That would leave Clemson available (but not for long!) if they finish 2nd in the ACC behind Florida State, as “the top non-CFP selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference.”

Still another wrinkle is a clause in the Big Ten-Citrus Bowl tie agreement, according to The Citrus Bowl reserves the right to host five different teams in a six year period. So say the Orange Bowl went with Penn State over Michigan, that would probably throw the Wolverines into the Outback Bowl over in Tampa.

Final Citrus Bowl 2018 Prediction

Our final verdict for our 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction… The Citrus Bowl committee will extend a return trip invitation to their defending champs LSU, and will waste no time in snatching up Clemson to join them. In other words, for our 2018 Citrus Bowl prediction Orlando will be “All Tigers” on New Years Day!
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