Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl officials will likely be very happy this New Years Eve Day as they are polishing off their savory wings. While prognosticating college bowl games in this era of championship playoffs can be a risky venture, it’s still a lot of fun to predict who we think may be playing in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.
Here’s how we think it could shake out for a detailed prediction for the 2017 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl …
First, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl has contractual tie-ins that should secure an upper echelon SEC team. This would be against either Notre Dame, or a probable highly ranked Big Ten or ACC opponent.
Since we definitely know there will be an SEC team represented, let’s start there. Like most years, the SEC is loaded. It’s hard not to go ahead and place Alabama in one of the national playoff slots. The defending champions have a knack for reloading. This year the designated “playoffs” are the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. The winners of these bowl games will square off against each other in the National Championship game on January 9, 2017 in Tampa.
There’s yet another wrinkle that could effect “who goes where” this year. The LSU Bayou Bengals are also predicted to be very, very good, but their first game resulted in a loss. With Fournette in the backfield, along with several returning starters from what’s always a stingy defense, the Tigers could also secure a spot in one of the playoff bowls. This year, LSU catches Bama at home. This is a game that could have a lot to say about the eventual SEC champion.
For the sake of argument, let’s say LSU beats Alabama in Death Valley. This puts LSU in the driver’s seat for the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. However, let’s also say the Crimson Tide roll everybody else they play. The SEC would certainly have a good argument for two teams in the playoff bowls.
However that shakes out, we need to look a little further down the SEC to choose a team. Ole Miss and Arkansas are picked by many to finish 3rd and 4th in the SEC West. They both should be good, but have the misfortune of playing in the same division as LSU and Bama. Local Orlando bowl supporters tend to favor inviting SEC East teams due to proximity. We are going to turn our attention there.
Many polls have Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Missouri picked to finish in the top 4 in the East. In last year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Michigan took Florida to the woodshed 41-7 in front of their home crowd, so we’re going to guess the Gators probably won’t get a return invitation. Most bowls like to mix it up from year to year anyway.
This leaves us with Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri. Logistically, the Tigers shouldn’t be in the East. Not that they haven’t been extremely competitive since joining the league… the Tigers whooped Minnesota 33-17 just 2 years ago in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl … but that’s a long way to ask a fan base to travel again. Since Citrus Bowl officials will want the best chance to fill the seats, we’re going to side with either the Vols or the Dogs. Our thinking is based on the scenario that both LSU and Bama will be playing elsewhere. Also, Tennessee or Georgia will end up in the Sugar Bowl, with the other one headed to the Citrus Bowl. With their proximity to Orlando, we’re going to take a stab and say the Bulldogs will be eating Buffalo Wild Wings on New Year’s Eve.
Now, we move on to who Georgia will likely play. As stated earlier, it will be Notre Dame, an ACC, or a Big Ten opponent. Anytime the Fighting Irish are available, conventional wisdom says take them. The key word here is available. Many polls have Notre Dame picked to finish in the top eight, which would certainly put them in the national mix at 11-1, 10-2 or better. Notre Dame opens their season at Texas, and closes at USC. The Longhorns and Trojans will have plenty to say about the national title. Still, we think the Irish are most likely to at least end up in the Capital One Orange Bowl against the best from the ACC.
That leaves either an ACC or Big Ten opponent. Clemson had a breakout year last season and nearly took it all. This year the ACC is much harder to predict. Louisville, Miami, Florida State, UNC, and Pitt are all expected to be very good. In the past however, the Citrus Bowl seems to have an appetite for a good SEC-Big Ten matchup. We believe this year will be no different.
The question is just who will be the representative from Big Ten Land. We’re going to put Ohio State in one of the 4 playoff spots, along with Bama and LSU. For the sake of argument, either Stanford, or perhaps one of the ACC teams will emerge there again.
If Ohio State does go to the Peach or Fiesta, that would more than likely put either Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. We’re going to give the nod to the Badgers. That would probably leave the Spartans and the Cornhuskers both headed to Florida. One team in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and one to the Outback Bowl. Now pulling out our crystal ball, we’re going with …. Georgia versus Michigan State in Orlando! Our official prediction for the 2017 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl : UGA will be barking at Sparty on New Year’s Eve!
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