It’s hard to believe we’re even saying “2020” but it’s literally right around the corner for our 202 Citrus Bowl projection! With it comes another incredibly exciting bowl season that will feature 40 games culminating with the National Championship to be played on January 13 in the Big Easy. This is one of Orlando’s top events.
Which brings us to the business at hand for the 2020 Citrus Bowl projection. This is OVH 360’s annual tradition of attempting to project which teams will compete in the Citrus Bowl! The Citrus is Orlando’s New Year’s Day showcase game that brings thousands of fans to central Florida to watch the game, enjoy the theme parks, and hopefully even squeeze in some golf and tennis.
Last year, the Kentucky Wildcats bested Penn State in a 27-24 thriller. This year promises to bring us another exciting matchup.
VRBO Citrus Bowl 2020
The VRBO Citrus Bowl will be played on Wednesday, January 1 in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. ABC will televise the game beginning at 1:00 EST.
As we mention each year, the Citrus Bowl is usually a matchup between two of the top teams from the SEC and the Big Ten. In some years, there’s also a scenario where it could be the SEC versus an ACC team.
ACC Teams Citrus Bowl
As set forth per the bowl guidelines, “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 from the Atlantic Coast Conference against the top non-CFP selection from the SEC.”
This year’s semifinal games will be played on December 28 in the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl (not the Orange Bowl). Accordingly, that does leave the door open for an ACC team to receive an invitation to the Citrus Bowl in the event a Big Ten team accepts an invite to play in the Orange Bowl. For us, that means we will need to focus our attention on all three conferences – the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten.
The logical thing to do is start at the top. While there’s never a sure thing in any sport, we are going to be “limons” here and take the top projected teams from each conference out of the equation. In the SEC, that would be Bama. ACC would be Clemson. Many figure these two giants will once again meet up in the championship game, where the Tide hopes to get some revenge from last year.
Big Ten Citrus Bowl
As usual, the Big Ten is evenly split between Ohio State and Michigan supporters who believe their team will reach the Rose Bowl. However, there’s always the chance that the Big Ten Champ could also find their way into one of the semifinal games.
Two other teams that are getting a lot of press to make the “final four” are Georgia and Oklahoma. The Sooners are in the Big 12 conference, so no need to include them as a potential Citrus Bowl player, although they could certainly play a role in who is, in the event they were to take one of the semifinal spots away from an SEC or ACC team.
2020 Citrus Bowl Scenarios
There are plenty of scenarios to consider from here. For our purpose, we need to focus on the likely second and third-place finishers from each conference and try to predict which two of those will pair up in the Citrus Bowl.
In the SEC, Georgia is likely to be a hot commodity come Bowl Selection day. Thought by many to have the best O-Line in the country, ’dem Bulldogs just may prevail in the SEC championship game. Even so, it’s a high probability that both Georgia and Alabama would still make the semifinals. The Tide won’t get left out of the playoff picture unless they were to get really thumped by the ‘Dogs.
In the SEC East, Florida improved drastically last year with a 10-2 season. In the SEC West, LSU also finished strong with a 10-2 record. Both fan bases are expecting big seasons this year. While we feel there is a steep drop after Georgia and Florida in the East, there are three other teams in the West that figure to have a say in “who goes where.” Those being Auburn, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State.
Typically in the bowl “pecking order,” the Sugar Bowl will have the first pick among SEC teams after the semifinal games are announced. That will probably come down to either Florida or LSU. There are some projections that have LSU playing Texas in the Sugar Bowl. That would certainly be interesting, and it would also be a rematch, since the teams will play each other on September 7. Consider that an “early-season bowl game.”
Geographically speaking, the Sugar Bowl would love to host the Bayou Bengals against anybody from the Big 12, whereas the Orange Bowl, Citrus Bowl, or Outback Bowl would roll out the carpet for the Gators. It doesn’t always work out that way though – LSU will square off against Florida in conference play on October 12 in Tiger Stadium. That game will have major implications on who ends up in the Sugar Bowl.
Let’s turn our attention to the Big Ten. After Michigan and Ohio State, the rest of the conference figures to be a cluster with Nebraska, Mighigan State, Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin all projected to win 7-8 games this season. Throw a dart. The big question again here is if either Michigan or Ohio State does sneak in to the playoff picture, that would send the second-place finisher to the Rose Bowl. Typically the Big Ten runner-up has an inside track to the Orange Bowl, depending on what kind of season Notre Dame has, or if there’s a top-tier SEC team to be had. Either way, we don’t feel the Wolverines or the Buckeyes will end up in Orlando.
In the ACC, Clemson is still the King, but both Miami and Virginia Tech figure to be “tough outs.” NC State, Florida State, and Wake Forest will likely make up the next tier, all projected to win at least 7 games.
That said, we believe the Big Ten will have a stronger field of teams for the Citrus Bowl committee to choose from, resulting in another SEC-Big Ten matchup.
The 2020 Citrus Bowl Prediction is…
Drum roll, please … After much consideration and a dart throw for our 2020 Citrus Bowl projection… OVH 360 officially picks the Florida Gators and Nebraska Cornhuskers to square off on in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day!
Much consideration was given to Miami, given the ACC tie-in this year. However, the ‘Canes and Gators open the season against each other on August 24, so we shied away from a potential rematch.
The coaching scenario – Former UCF coach Scott Frost returns to Orlando, this time at the helm of the Cornhuskers, where they will do battle with Dan Mullens’s Gators.
This year, we’re even going to pick the winner: Citrus Bowl 2020. Chomp Chomp!
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