LSU to play Notre Dame in Citrus Bowl
BATON ROUGE - It will be Déjà vu all over again for the LSU football team.
The 9-3 Tigers, who were ranked No. 17 in the latest College Football Playoff poll on Sunday, will play No. 14 Notre Dame, also 9-3, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on New Year's Day at noon on ABC, it was announced on Sunday afternoon.
LSU was just at the Citrus Bowl last Dec. 31 and beat No. 13 Louisville, 29-9, to finish 8-4 on the season. And it was just three years ago that the Tigers played unranked Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, and lost, 31-28.
The Tigers will play in the same bowl in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they played in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 1959, to complete a national championship, undefeated season at 11-0 with a 7-0 win over Clemson and on Jan. 1, 1960, when No. 3 LSU lost to No. 2 Ole Miss, 21-0.
"We will follow the same plan," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said on a Citrus Bowl teleconference Sunday from a family event in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where his wife Kelly is from. "When we get down there, guys are going to know where to go. We had a tremendous time last year. Looking forward to playing a great Notre Dame team. It's going to be a big, physical football game."
LSU has a win over No. 7 Auburn and has won six of its last seven games, while Notre Dame has wins over No. 8 USC and No. 16 Michigan State and has won eight of its last 10. The Tigers have a 24-10 loss to No. 4 Alabama, while the Fighting Irish have a 20-19 loss to No. 3 Georgia.
"We feel like we're going to a great game," Orgeron said. "Our men deserve time in Florida."
Asked how he would motivate his team, Orgeron said, "Just tell them we're playing Notre Dame."
Orgeron said injured outside linebacker Arden Key, a junior expected to go in the first round of the next NFL Draft, will play in the bowl. Key made two sacks in the Citrus Bowl last season and set the record for sacks in a season at LSU with 12.
"As far as I know, he's going to play," Orgeron said. "I expect him to play."
Orgeron said Key was "questionable" for a bowl after LSU's win over Texas A&M in the regular season finale last week. He did not play in that game.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly praised LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who may not still be LSU's offensive coordinator for the bowl or for next year as Orgeron has hinted that he may be leaving for a head coaching job. Mid-major Louisiana-Lafayette has a head coaching opening as of Sunday.
"Matt Canada has done a nice job diversifying," Kelly said. "It's a different team from 2014, but talent is still there. What stands out is the way they finished. Really played well late, settled into who they are, have an identity. Finishing 9-3 out of the SEC is quite a year."