By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Dave Aranda against Lamar Jackson on New Year’s Eve?
Yes, that’ll do quite nicely.
The Heisman Trophy favorite and the soon-to-be-highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football will offer the marquee matchup when No. 20 LSU (7-4) takes on No. 13 Louisville (9-3) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, which’ll kick off at 10 a.m. CT in Orlando.
College football’s bowl pairings were announced Sunday afternoon, and the Citrus Bowl immediately stands out as one of the postseason’s most intriguing matchups.
LSU will take the field for the first time since Ed Orgeron was named full-time coach and it’ll likely be Leonard Fournette’s last hurrah as a Tiger. But all eyes will be on how Jackson sizes up against one of the best units in college football.
“This will be a great opportunity for our football team,” Orgeron said. “We feel like we’re just getting started.”
As for Fournette, Orgeron wasn’t sure whether the star tailback would be available. He’s spent recent time off rehabbing his ankle, Orgeron said, but he’ll be “day by day” once LSU begins bowl preperations next week.
Jackson accounted for a 51 total touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards of total offense this season. He and Bobby Petrino has Louisville in the thick of the playoff chase before closing the season with a lopsided road loss to Houston and a home defeat against Kentucky.
“Bobby Petrino is an excellent offensive coach,” Orgeron said. “Lamar Jackson is one of the best football players in the country.”
LSU has played in the Citrus Bowl (previously Tangerine Bowl and Capitol One Bowl) three times, most recently in a 19-17 loss to Penn State in 2010. LSU also lost to Iowa in 2005 and defeated Wake Forest in 1979. This will be the Tigers first ever meeting with Louisville.