In collaboration with M!KEDROPSPORTS

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

UCF Knights (12-0) vs LSU Tigers (9-3)

Date: Tuesday, January 1st at 12 pm CT

Location: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ

Bowl history

Originated: 1998

Fiesta Bowl history

Teams that are currently considered “Group of Five” are 5-1 in the Fiesta Bowl while SEC teams are just 1-4 (last win was Tennessee in 1999)

Last year’s result: Penn State beat Washington 35-28

UCF bowl history

This is UCF’s second Fiesta Bowl appearance. In fact, they beat Baylor as the at-large Big East champion in 2014, the final year of the old BCS system. In total, UCF is 2-0 in BCS/New Year’s Six bowls as they won the Peach Bowl last year over Auburn. 

Overall, UCF is 4-5 in bowl games as well as 2-1 against SEC teams. Their wins include 2018 Peach versus Auburn, 2010 Liberty versus Georgia, and a loss in 2007 to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.

UCF’s last bowl loss was also their last overall loss, in the 2016 Cure Bowl to Arkansas State.

LSU bowl history

This will be LSU’s first Fiesta Bowl appearance and their first New Year’s Six bowl game since 2012 when they played Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

LSU has lost nine of their last 10 January 1st bowl games. They are 8-13 all-time in January 1st bowl games and are 1-9 in the last 10, dating back to the 1971 Orange Bowl. They did win their last New Year’s Day game, in 2014 against Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

LSU’s last two bowl games have both been in the Citrus Bowl – they lost to Notre Dame last year and beat Louisville in 2016.

LSU has never played an AAC team or any “group of five” team in a bowl game.

 Series history

The Fiesta Bowl will be the first all-time meeting between these schools.

Game Notes

Players to Watch

UCF: Greg McCrae – Running back

LSU: Joe Burrow – Quarterback

UCF 2018 Season

UCF comes into this game with a 25 game winning streak. Despite beating “no one” over that time, UCF has knocked off #5 Auburn, #24 Cincinnati, Memphis as well as 2018 ACC coastal champion Pittsburgh.

The Knights average double the points per game on offense (44) than they allow defensively (21). Not having quarterback McKenzie Milton will be tough, but this team has basically battled adversity for 25 straight games.

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Milton’s replacement, Darriel Mack has completed 40-70 passes this year for 522 yards with two touchdowns along with zero interceptions. He has also run for six touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The key for UCF will be the running game as well as what Mack does with his legs at the quarterback. Additionally, running back Greg McCrae, who averaged an insane nine yards per carry, on just 123 carries this year (1,101 yards total) will play a huge factor.

LSU 2018 Season

LSU handed Georgia their only regular season loss, but followed that game up with a loss to Florida. They also lost 29-0 to Alabama and then lost an absolute heart-breaker in the season finale to Texas A&M (74-72 final score…in football, not basketball).

Joe Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State before the season, filled in nicely at quarterback for the Tigers. Burrow combined for 19 total touchdowns (12 passing, seven rushing) and threw just four interceptions. Certainly a key part of LSU’s success was being able to protect the football.

For the first time in what feels like a long time, LSU had more success throwing the ball than running it. Running back Nick Brossette did finish the year with 14 touchdowns and ran for under 1,000 yards while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Final Analysis

The Fiesta Bowl comes down to two things. For LSU, how motivated will they be? Will they suffer the same fatigue that we hear whenever an SEC team loses to a Group of Five team? That this game is meaningless and they weren’t prepared and didn’t care?

For UCF, they made an incredible comeback in the AAC Championship against Memphis without their star quarterback McKenzie Milton. That was Memphis. As great as UCF is, if they go down by 14 or more points, it will be hard to overcome that against LSU’s highly ranked defense.

For more college football talk, you can follow me at M!KEDROPSPORTS, on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports

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