LSU is going to Disney World — again.
The Tigers are heading back to the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame, a repeat trip to the Orlando-based game against a high-profile opponent. LSU, 9-3 and No. 17 in the College Football Playoff rankings, will meet the 14th-ranked Irish (9-3) at noon on Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium.
Coach Ed Orgeron's group will become the first SEC team to make back-to-back trips to the Citrus since Tennessee after the 1995-96 seasons. LSU beat Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville 29-9 last New Year's Eve morning in the bowl.
The school expected the repeat invitation earlier this week, barring weekend surprises. The Citrus is the top SEC bowl tie-in outside of the CFP/New Year's 6 games (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Fiesta and Peach). The Citrus, unlike many of the other SEC bowl tie-ins, has the authority to pick its participant.
The Citrus Bowl committee chose the Tigers over 8-4 Mississippi State, with an interim coach and without injured starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, and 8-4 South Carolina. The Tigers, winners of six of their last seven games, did not fall to the next rung in the SEC bowl pecking order. Behind the Citrus are a group of six bowls in which the league decides the participants: Liberty, Texas, TaxSlayer, Outback, Belk and Music City.
LSU and Notre Dame are somewhat frequent bowl opponents. After the 2014 season, LSU lost 31-28 to the Irish in the Music City Bowl, and the Tigers beat ND in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. The teams played three times in a 13-game span in 1997 and 1998 and played in three more sets of home-and-home series.
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They share plenty with one another — from a heavy Catholic base of fans to coaching connections. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri left ND for the Tigers after the 2006 season. He led the Irish to the College World Series in 2002, its first trip there in 45 years.
This will be LSU’s fifth appearance in the Citrus Bowl and fourth since the 2004 season. The Tigers first went to Orlando in 1979 when the game was known as the Tangerine Bowl. LSU sent out Charles McClendon, the program’s all-time winningest coach, with an emotional 34-10 victory over Wake Forest.
Orlando was also the site of LSU’s final game under Nick Saban, a week after he announced he was leaving the Tigers to fulfill a long-held ambition to coach in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. The game, then known as a Capital One Bowl, was a shocker for LSU, as Iowa’s Drew Tate completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway as time expired for a 30-25 victory.
LSU returned to the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day 2010, losing a 19-17 decision to Penn State and late coach Joe Paterno on a field reduced to a muddy quagmire after heavy pregame rains. The game helped prompt a switch to artificial turf as part of Camping World Stadium’s subsequent renovations.
This is LSU’s 49th bowl appearance and 18th straight since 2000, extending an ongoing school record. The Tigers’ all-time bowl record is 25-22-1.
Scott Rabalais contributed to this report....Read more