Sunny forecast: LSU football may be headed back to Florida to finish 2023 season

Notre Dame is team most prominently mentioned to face Tigers in ReliaQuest Bowl

LSU deep snapper Slade Roy (44) celebrates with West Weeks (40) and Preston Malbrue (52) after making a special teams tackle Nov. 25 against Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium. PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

Nearly a year after concluding its 2022 season with a 63-7 victory in the Citrus Bowl, LSU could be headed back to Florida to bring its ’23 season to an end.

Based on the projections of some of the nation’s top college football writers and broadcasters, the Tigers and Notre Dame may be ticketed for the ReliaQuest Bowl (formerly the Outback Bowl) against Notre Dame.

The game is scheduled for 11 a.m., Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and will be televised by ESPN2.

Official bowl invitations will be extended on Sunday.

LSU (9-3) is No. 13 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, while Notre Dame (9-3) is 16th and would have the intrigue of matching second-year Tigers head coach Brian Kelly against the program he left for Baton Rouge.

Kelly, the nation’s active winningest coach with 303 victories, spent 12 years at Notre Dame where he compiled the school’s most victories with 113. He led the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the BCS national championship game in 2012 and CFP appearances in ’18 and ’20.

Kelly also coached Notre Dame to bowl wins over LSU in the ’14 Music City Bowl (31-28) and ’18 Citrus Bowl (21-17) and the Irish hold a 7-5 edge all-time against the Tigers.

Wisconsin (7-5), which finished second in the Big 10 West, is also mentioned as a possible opponent for LSU in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

LSU closed out a 10-4 season in Kelly’s first season in January with a dominating victory over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.

The SEC has won the last three ReliaQuest Bowl matchups with Mississippi State defeating Illinois, 19-10, in ’22, Arkansas knocking off Penn State, 24-10 in ’21, and Ole Miss taking a 26-10 win over Indiana in ’20. Before that, Minnesota was a 31-24 winner over Auburn in ’19 and Iowa edged Mississippi State, 27-22, in ’18.

The Tigers have also been linked to other opponents in different games.

LSU has also been matched with North Carolina State (9-3), the No. 21 team in the latest CFP rankings, in the Dec. 29 Gator Bowl and the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl against Iowa (10-2), the 18th ranked team in the CFP rankings.

Of the three potential destinations, LSU’s has the most history with a 3-3 record in the Citrus Bowl. The Tigers are 1-1 in the Outback Bowl with a 21-14 win over Iowa in ’14 their most recent trip, while they’re 1-0 in the Gator Bowl with a 30-13 win over South Carolina in ’87.

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William Weathers

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