Frankie V’s Citrus Bowl Prediction: Notre Dame v. LSU

In just a few short hours, Notre Dame will square off against LSU in the Citrus Bowl with the Irish looking to snap an streak of 9 straight January bowl losses.  Whether or not they break the streak will depend on which Notre Dame team we see.  The one that blew out USC, NC State, and Michigan State or the one that struggled to do anything offensively in November against Miami and Stanford.  Let’s dig in to my prediction.

What Concerns Me This Week

The Team’s Mindset

I’ve said this in a couple of articles now, but having four players suspended in a short period of time is concerning.  Yes they could all be isolated incidents of young kids making bad (and in the case of some incredibly bad) choices, but it could also be an indicator of where this team’s head is at. Do they really care about getting that 10th win or have they been checked out since they fell out of the CFP race?

Notre Dame’s Passing Game

Brandon Wimbush isn’t going to turn into Baker Mayfield overnight.  We should see some improvement from him as a passer, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to make huge strides in the passing department with 15 practices.  Add in Notre Dame missing three of their top four receivers and it’s easy to see why the Notre Dame passing game is a reason for concern against LSU.

Here’s the thing though, with LSU breaking in those new linebackers, it’s likely that the Tiger safeties will be cheating a little closer to the line they normally would.

What Doesn’t Concern Me This Week

Notre Dame’s Run Defense

Derrius Guice decided to play in the Citrus Bowl unlike Leonard Fournette a year ago, but even with Guice – a potential high round draft pick playing – I’m not overly concerned with the Notre Dame rush defense getting gashed.  The Notre Dame front seven has been steady all year and with a month of rest for a defensive line that didn’t have as a deep of a rotation as one would have liked, I think they will be up for the task today.

Guice will get his yards here and there, but the Notre Dame defense will keep him fairly well contained throughout the game.

LSU’s Defense

LSU will be playing without three of its starting linebackers today.  Even though they will be replacing them with a trio of former highly rated recruits, that is a lot of experience to be replacing.  The LSU front seven will still be fast and athletic, but it will be inexperienced and that inexperience can lead to some over pursuit that Notre Dame should be able to take advantage of.  Look for Chip Long to dial up a lot of crossing routes in the passing game and to mix in some misdirection in the run game to take advantage.

Even with the inexperience though, LSU has a great defense coordinated by the highest paid assistant in college football – Dave Aranda.  He will have his unit ready for the Irish, but that is a lot to ask any coordinator to overcome for a bowl game.

Players to Watch

  • Dexter Williams – Is healthy? Will he actually get some carries?  Williams has been explosive whenever he’s gotten a chance to be the last two years.  The problem is, he hasn’t gotten nearly enough chances to do so.
  • Cole Kmet – With Alize Mack out, watch out for the freshman – especially with some inexperienced linebackers in the LSU defense.  It would bode very well for Notre Dame is the frosh TE could use the Citrus Bowl as a springboard for a breakout 2018.
  • Michael Young – Like Kmet, Young could be the beneficiary of a suspension.  With Kevin Stepherson out, Young might get more looks than he has all year in the Notre Dame offense.  The Louisiana native probably wouldn’t mind the extra reps against his home state program.
  • Durham Smythe – Playing his last game at Notre Dame and with Alize Mack in the lineup, Smythe will be there if Kmet isn’t ready for a breakout.  Smythe isn’t the athlete that either Mack of Kmet is, but he is a reliable receiver who might just have one big game in him before he exhausts his eligibility.
  • Brandon Wimbush – Obvious one here but as he goes, Notre Dame goes today.  If he completes less than 50% of his passes and has less than 50 yards rushing, Notre Dame won’t have a chance.  Notre Dame needs both his arm and his legs to win it’s first January bowl game since 1993.
  • Equanimeous St. Brown – While his numbers were hurt this year because of Wimbush’s struggles, they were also hurt because he didn’t show any ability to win 50/50 balls.  Let’s see if he can change that today against one of the best secondaries in the country.
  • Daelin Hayes – He started the season hot but then fell off.  Can he get going again today?

Prediction Time

Earlier in the week I had myself convinced Notre Dame didn’t have a chance in this one.  The more I dug in though, the more I realized how beatable LSU is, IF we see the Notre Dame team that we saw in October.  IF we see the one that we saw in November, well then this one isn’t going to end how we all hope it does.

I think we’ll see a better Brandon Wimbush this afternoon, but not one that is firing perfectly placed passes all over the field.  I’m expecting a mix of the Wimbush we saw in October and the one we saw in November.  He’ll make a couple jaw dropping plays that remind us all why it makes complete sense to be patient as he develops and then a couple plays that remind us why we saw Ian Book briefly against Miami in early November.

I’m still not convinced that Notre Dame will be able to find the edge they had in October this afternoon and without it, I don’t think the Irish can beat LSU today.  I’m predicting a close lose in the full hopes that I am dead wrong. Happy New Year to all.  Here’s to me starting off the new year feasting on some crow later tonight.

LSU 24, Notre Dame 23

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  1. How many points does Oklahoma put up on ND?!

    Look, BK is a joke. But it’s also clear the Sooners have a whole different level of talent to ND, as do Bama and Clemson and UGA and Miami and so many others.

    ND needs to look at how it can recruit more high caliber talent. Plain and simple.

    Now, could BK develop even elite talent? Doubt it!

  2. I wonder which O line is better?

    ND’s or Wisconsin’s? How did each fare against the U in Miami?

    ND’s or OU’s? How is OU’s line doing against that vaunted UGA front seven?

    There is no more overrated unit in college football than ND’s O line. There is no more overrated assistant coach than Harry Heistand.

    1. You’re comparing completely different offenses. If ND had Baker Mayfield, how much easier would it have been to run the ball against Georgia?

      Wisconsin threw for 250+ yards, 4 TDS, and zero INTs against Miami. If Wimbush had a stat line like that, we’d have run the ball better against Miami.

      Our line carried the team and performed well against teams loading up the box. They also provided great pass protection, but didn’t have a QB who could take advantage of it.

      1. Miami also loaded up against Wisconsin. True, their QB made good throws. But he hadn’t played that well all year. Miami dared him to throw and he did. But they also ran well from the start.

        The bottom line is whatever excuses one wants to make, this O line has consistently been underwhelming against top Ds.

  3. I don’t care what Book did. Kelly benching wimbush is just stupid. Didn’t wimpish get us to 9-3? Kelly pulling him in the 2nd series on the 3rd down play when he hit his first few passes is just retarded. Kelly is killing Wimbush’s confidence. A coach CAN get in a players head and make him worse and Kelly is succeeding at it. He is the best about on our current roster. I just don’t get it.

    Jurkovec will probably start next year.

  4. Let’s not overlook Yoon’s clutch distance FGs when passing out game balls. Don’t win if he misses either or especially both.

  5. Jeff said it earlier, about the smart move to kick the fg. Thank you Ed. What I think happened was our boys took this game personally and took it into their own hands and pulled out one of the greatest ( in the top 100 of all time, since it was a Bowl win) Fightin Irish wins of all time.

  6. Nice win to cap off an excellent rebound year. Lots to discuss this offseason, so the fun isn’t over.

    Maybe this wasn’t an elite team—but it was a legit Top 10 team, and the future looks bright.

  7. I guess that’s why one should wait until the clock hits 0 before predicting a loss. I really thought it was all but over when LSU scored that second TD, but hats off to Book for getting those points back and more. And also to Elko on that last drive for not going all conservative like so many teams do. He knew we had LSU on their heels and he made sure the D put the dagger in.

    Have we seen the last of Wimbush at ND as a QB? Well, time will tell. The Blue Gold Game will tell us where his head is at. Does he give up or does he play with a chip on his shoulder and take his starter role back?

    Glad that ND beat a decent team in a decent bowl game on national TV. However, also disappointed because it could have been so much more. In any event, it’s always good to end the year with a win, esp. in a bowl game.

    Go Irish!

  8. Truthfully, a great ND win against an average LSU team with a Purdue reject at QB and backups all over the place.

    But ND was also shorthanded.

    Both ND and LSU are far from elite, though.

    1. No, Jeff, should’ve gone for it from inside the foot line!

      Worse case scenario ND as to go 99 yards.

      We’ll take it, though.

      1. If LSU goes for it and comes up short ND doesn’t have to go 99 yds they just have to get in fg range.

      2. No, but they have to go about seventy with about two minutes and starting inside the one. Do you think ND comes out passing from their endzone with Book?!

        ND runs the ball three times to try to eat clock and make LSU use its TOs. ND then punts with under a minute and we all hope the D makes a play or two to force OT.

        I’ll take Orgeron going for the FG. But you know LSU fans are second guessing him.

  9. Barring a TO or 4th down stop what a gutless response by the ND D! So typical. The O scores and the D gives up a long soul-killing drive rather than get the ball back for the O.

    Better make a play here. LSU scores a TD and it’s all but over.

    Make a damned play, D!

  10. Elting better serve up that pick soon, GK, or it’s the same old story of the D letting the opposition storm down the field after a ND TD.

    No response from the D thus far. At least heard Tillery’s name for the first time.

    ND has to stop playing QBs who grew up Irish fans! They always beat the Irish!!!

  11. That was a gutsy drive led by IB! Even David has to admit as much.

    Now let’s see if the D can get the O the ball back for a late Yoon game-winning FG!

  12. Looks like a few of ya’ll got a lil impatient. Time for Etling to serve up a pic and last sec Yoon game winner for the Irish.

    1. Spot on, GK.

      Mea culpa!

      Let’s hope you’re prophetic.

      I’ll take the win. But this is hardly an inspiring performance.

      David is right about the excitement if you’re a Nebraska fan.

  13. Game over folks. A shame, because for the most part our defense was doing a decent job keeping us in the game. We just can’t score for crap.

    And another QB flop for BK. Frankly, I’m not inclined to blame Wimbush. After hearing EG is the QB for BK’s system, he’ll bring it home, no wait, it’s actually Zaire, well, maybe Kizer, no, now we got the man in Wimbush. BK ruins QB’s. If Wimbush played for someone else, he may very well be an elite QB, who knows. All I know is I almost pity Jurkovec. Another highly rated QB recruit that will not develop under BK.

    This is BK though. And I fear the powers at ND are satisfied with that. They’ll continue to give lip service to the ole ‘we want NC’s at ND’ but I don’t believe them anymore. Swarbick proved money is the most important thing in his mind with his boneheaded Shamrock series move next year. As long as the money rolls in and the alumni are satisfied, 9 win seasons will be enough, maybe the occasional 10 win season every so often. I no longer believe they care about being elite anymore.

    1. Allright, maybe I’ll have to eat a little crow, we’ll see what happens. Still, ND under BK is still a land of broken QB dreams. Too many QB’s with tons of promise flaming out is a huge problem.

      We’ll see how Book does. He reminds me a little of Rees in the sense he’s a tough kid who takes his licks and keeps on ticking. He doesn’t let mistakes get in his head.

      We may very well have seen the end of Wimbush as a starter though. Esp. if ND does pull out a win here.

  14. FYI: Entire UCF staff is leaving en masse for Nebraska….yet that team is playing blood and guts out for them. Focused like lasers.
    No one ever plays hard for Kelly.

    1. They just showed a group of Nebraska fans in the crowd to see their new coaching staff.
      Happy New Year I’m sure.

  15. GK, I hope you’re not referring to me!

    I’ve never called you dumb. My critiques are about the ND football team, not you personally.

    ND is a mediocre football team and program. BK is a mediocre coach. David is right about that.

    I don’t like his style but he’s calling it like he sees it!

    LSU about to put this game away and hand ND and BK another bowl loss!

    BTW: Recruits might just run for the hills after watching this slop and slather.

      1. Any ND player is a downgrade for LSU!

        This is what a bunch of three stars and no five star recruits look like when playing against good teams.

        Unless you have a good coaching staff, like Wisconsin’s, which ND hasn’t had since Lou was ousted.

        BTW: Hiestand isn’t even worthy of sniffing Joe Moore’s jock strap!

    1. You know what, GK, David is right, though.

      Now he may well insult me. You might insult me for saying he’s right. But so be it.

      ND football is in a pathetic state. This game is a microcosm of all that’s wrong. Poor QB play, poor STs, poor coaching, etc.

      Compare our play with Wisconsin’s against Miami. No comparison. Two programs going in different directions!

      OK, enough of trick plays!!!

  16. Now the beat down of the Irish begins! This team doesn’t respond to bowl game adversity well. Let’s pray things change!

    ND’s un-STs strike again!!! How many times has this same mess up on punts have to happen to BK’s teams?!

    This whole program is stuck in the mud. The game day weather is a perfect metaphor for the state of ND football. Cold, dreary, gloomy, overcast.

  17. 3-0 at halftime with this offensive juggernaut of much ballyhooed OL not doing much, not showing up in the games that count. Let’s see who starts the 2nd half at QB. Doesn’t look like this team even prepared for this game ( surprised should I be?).

    Pick it up in the 2nd half and hammer these tiggers.

  18. Now that we’re acquainted, we’ll get those turnovers due us. Adams suddenly came alive with the QB change.

  19. Halftime at the Peach….great game so far! Entertaining, well played, well coached.
    Has your viewing choice satisfied you?

      1. Now now. No need to take a swipe at NHL hockey when you have a very deserving entity in ND football.

  20. ND has basically a RB and an Ivy League QB as their top two signal callers. Just embarrassing!

    Need to open up the QB competition in the spring. BW and IB aren’t the future at ND.

    Once again that “vaunted” ND O line is just playing outstanding ball. QBs have all the time in the world and RBs have gaping holes to run through!

    What do experts see in this O line?! Do they just watch game tapes against Temple and Navy?!

    1. I’ve been looking at him and he’s been very average against a mash unit O line for LSU. He’s a good player but far from great!

      1. Still waiting to hear from Tillery, GK!

        LSU’s depleted O line has controlled the ND D line in the running game. Guice is over 5 YPC!

        Can you imagine what any of the PO teams (including UGA right now and not in Sept.) would do to ND?!

  21. People on here constantly make excuses and say ND can’t be compared to and therefore can’t compete with elite ACC and SEC programs.

    OK, so what about comparing them to Wisconsin?!

    The Badgers are heads and shoulders above ND right now and have been for a long time.

    BTW: UCF is right now a better program than ND. Think about that! UCF wasn’t even around fifty years ago. How long have they even been playing football?!

    LSU has backups along both lines and ND can’t move the ball or really stop their running game. Where is that “vaunted” ND O line? MIA like usual in big games against good Ds!

    Is Jerry Tillery playing or has he been suspended too, GK?

  22. Irish can’t make plays!

    Two missed opportunities on STs to turn momentum.

    Oh, well, shaping up like a typical ND bowl performance.

    We all know what that ultimately translates to.

  23. The number of typos in your articles makes for some tough reading. I certainly appreciate the discussion and the analysis, but the grammatical errors are distracting. I would gladly proofread your articles prior to posting if you’d like.

  24. Frankie, at least you expect the Irish to beat the spread. How do you like your crow burger? Tillery will serve it up to you Cajun style.

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