Florida bound: LSU receives New Year’s Day matchup with Wisconsin in ReliaQuest Bowl

LSU football coach Brian Kelly and his staff could be setting off some recruiting fireworks this July 4th. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

LSU finds itself with another Florida destination to end its season.

A year after defeating Purdue in last year’s Citrus Bowl, the No. 13 ranked Tigers (9-3) are matched against unranked Wisconsin (7-5) in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Raymond James Stadium at 11 a.m. Jan. 1.

The game will be televised by ESPN2.

“A SEC-Big Ten matchup always creates a lot of excitement, but facing a Wisconsin team led by a great coach in Luke Fickell makes this bowl game even more attractive,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said in a university release. “Wisconsin has a great tradition with a tremendous fan base. I know both teams are excited to be in Tampa during New Year’s to play in the ReliaQuest Bowl.”

LSU takes plenty of momentum into its contest with Wisconsin of the Big 10 Conference. The Tigers reeled off six wins in their last seven games, suffering only a 42-28 defeat to Southeastern Conference champion Alabama, which will take part in the College Football Playoff.

LSU’s previous history in the ReliaQuest Bowl was when the game was formerly known as the Outback Bowl. The Tigers defeated Iowa, 21-14, in 2014. The two programs have never met in the postseason.

This marks Wisconsin’s seventh appearance in the game (including Outback Bowl) and are 2-4 in the event.

“We are excited for the opportunity to showcase our football program and represent our university in the ReliaQuest Bowl,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a university release. “Our student-athletes, staff, and fans will enjoy the chance to travel to Tampa and compete in a New Year’s Day bowl against another program with great tradition and support.”

LSU finished were third in the SEC’s West Division behind Alabama and Ole Miss behind on the nation’s top offenses led by Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Jayden Daniels.

Daniels was noncommittal about playing in the team’s bowl game after LSU defeated Texas A&M, 42-30, in the regular season finale on Nov. 25. He was the nation’s leader through 12 games in total offense (412.2), having completed 236 of 327 passes (72.2%) for 3,812 yards and 40 touchdowns to go with a team-high 1,134 rushing yards and 10 TDs.

“I’ve got to make some decisions,” Daniels said after the game. “I’m going to go and sit down with my family and kind of embrace this moment. My last regular season game and we’ll just go from there.”

Junior wide receiver Malik Nabers kept the door open for such an appearance. He’s a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award with 86 receptions with 1,546 yards and 14 TDs.

“I really want to play,” Nabers said after the A&M game. “It’s a decision I’m going to have to look into to play. A lot of people don’t come across this (career yardage) record to break. Being the competitor that I am, being the dog that I am, I want to set myself in history. I want to leave my name at the No. 1 spot as many times as I can.”

Wisconsin was 7-5 and 5-4 in Big 10 play in its first season under coach Luke Fickell. The Badgers have won their past three bowl games and eight of their last nine.

Wisconsin began with a 4-1 record before stumbling a bit in the middle of the season with three straight losses. They wound up with a two-game winning streak over Nebraska (24-17) and Minnesota (28-14) to end the regular season and become bowl eligible.

Sixth-year senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai, an SMU transfer, led Wisconsin’s offense to 22.83 points and 370.1 yards per game. He threw for 1,687 yards on 177 carries with six touchdowns. The Badgers will be without their top running back Braelon Allen (181-984 yards, 12 TDs) who announced his intentions to skip in senior year and enter the NFL Draft.

Junior safety Hunter Wohler was the leading tackler from a unit that allowed 18.92 points and 331.4 yards per game. He had 113 tackles with 4 ½ tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions, four pass breakups and four quarterback hurries.

LSU last faced Wisconsin in the 2016 season opener at Green Bay’s famed Lambeau Field where the Tigers lost, 16-14.

“We’re extremely excited to be playing in the ReliaQuest Bowl, Fickell said. “It’s a great opportunity for our young men who have battled throughout this season and to get closure for what they have done, not just for our seniors but for our entire program. We’re really excited about coming to Tampa for a great bowl game.”

author avatar
William Weathers

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


fifty nine − fifty five =