Nov 07, 2018

Week 10 Bowl Projections: Spartans, Nittany Lions dominate media picks

The college football season is entering the home stretch, and the countdown to the 2019 Citrus Bowl is on in Orlando.

Though the Citrus Bowl has been a traditional Big Ten/SEC match-up for more than two decades, last season’s game featured the Notre Dame fighting Irish, the second participant affiliated with the ACC since 1992. Notre Dame’s appearance against LSU (a 21-17 Fighting Irish victory) was the result of the Citrus Bowl’s unique relationship with the Orange Bowl in Miami.

In years where the Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team (like last season, when it featured Wisconsin), the Citrus Bowl replaces its traditional Big Ten pick with the top non-Playoff selection from the ACC. This season, the Orange Bowl is hosting a CFP semifinal game, meaning the Citrus Bowl is guaranteed to host a Big Ten-SEC matchup.

Here’s a look at the media’s Citrus Bowl picks after Week 10:

Mitch Sherman (ESPN): Penn State vs. Mississippi State
Kyle Bonagura (ESPN): Penn State vs. Kentucky
Eric Single (Sports Illustrated):  Penn State vs. Auburn
Jason Kirk (SBNation): Penn State vs. Florida
Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Wisconsin vs. Florida
Bill Bender (Sporting News): Michigan State vs. Kentucky
Brant Parsons (Orlando Sentinel): Northwestern vs. Kentucky
Brent McMurphy (Stadium): Michigan State vs. Florida Iowa vs. Florida
247 Sports: Michigan State vs. Florida
USA Today: Penn State vs. Florida
Bleacher Report: Michigan State vs. Auburn

Penn State vs. Mississippi State

  • This would be the first matchup between Penn State and Mississippi State.
  • Although Mississippi State has never made an appearance at the Citrus Bowl, the Bulldogs have played five bowl games in Florida in the past seven years (2010, 2012, 2017 Gator Bowl; 2014 Orange Bowl; 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl).

Penn State vs. Kentucky

  • Historically, Penn State has a slight edge over Kentucky, holding a 3-2 all-time series lead.
  • The last time these two teams met was in the 1999 Outback Bowl. The Nittany Lions won the game 26-14.
  • Penn State has appeared in the Citrus Bowl five times and has a 2-3 record in those games.
  • The Nittany Lions won their most recent visit to the Citrus Bowl in 2010, defeating LSU 19-17.
  • Kentucky has never played in the Citrus Bowl and has not won a bowl game since the Wildcats defeated East Carolina in the 2009 Liberty Bowl.

Penn State vs. Auburn

  • This would be a rematch of the 2003 Citrus Bowl, in which Ronnie Brown and Auburn defeated Penn State 13-9. Brown was named game MVP after rushing for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries.
  • Penn State and Auburn have only ever met on New Year’s Day (2003 Citrus Bowl and 1996 Outback Bowl). The Nittany Lions also won that ’96 Outback Bowl game, 43-14.

Penn State vs. Florida

Florida topped Penn State 21-6 in the 1998 Citrus Bowl.

  • Penn State and Florida have met three times previously, with the Gators defeating Penn State in all three matchups.
  • This would be a rematch of the 1998 Citrus Bowl, which Florida won 21-6 in front of a Citrus Bowl-record crowd of 72,940.
  • The most recent meeting between the Gators and Nittany Lions came in the 2011 Outback Bowl. Florida won the game 37-24.
  • The Gators last played in the Citrus Bowl in 2016 and lost to Michigan 41-7.

Wisconsin vs. Florida

  • This would be the first matchup between Wisconsin and Florida.
  • Florida is tied with Georgia with a record six Citrus Bowl appearances. The Gators hold a 2-4 record in those games.
  • Wisconsin has made five Citrus Bowl appearances, including three victories. The Badgers’ most recent appearance in Orlando was a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the 2014 game, known at the time as the Capital One Bowl.

Michigan State vs. Kentucky

The Spartans was projected by four separate media outlets to appear in the 2019 Citrus Bowl.

  • The Spartans have played in three previous Citrus Bowl games, including a 37-34 victory over Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators in 2000.
  • Michigan State is also responsible for the most recent fumble return touchdown, a 24-yard return by T.J. Turner in the 2000 game.
  • Michigan State has also made one appearance in the Camping World Bowl, a 24-21 defeat at the hands of Boston College in the 2007 game.

Northwestern vs. Kentucky

  • Northwestern made one previous appearance at the Citrus Bowl in 1996 – the Wildcats lost 48-28 to a Tennessee team led by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
  • Northwestern has won a bowl game in each of the past two years (2016 Pinstripe Bowl, 2017 Music City Bowl).

Michigan State vs. Florida

  • This matchup would be a rematch of the 2000 Citrus Bowl — the Spartans defeated the Gators 37-34, thanks to a last second, 39-yard field-goal by Paul Edinger.
  • Former Spartans wideout Plaxico Burress was MVP of the 2000 Citrus Bowl thanks to three receiving touchdowns, tied for the Citrus Bowl record. (Travis Taylor of Florida also had three receiving touchdowns in the game.) Burress’ 185 receiving yards are also third all-time in Citrus Bowl games.
  • The Spartans were coached by interim coach Bobby Williams, who took over when Nick Saban accepted the head coaching position at LSU at the end of the regular season.

Iowa vs. Florida

Florida is tied for most ever Citrus Bowl appearances with six (tied with Georgia).

  • The Hawkeyes and Gators have met four previous times, once in the 1983 Gator Bowl and three times in the Outback Bowl (2004, 2006, and 2017).
  • The Gators lead the series 3-1, with the Hawkeyes’ only victory coming in the 2004 Outback Bowl.
  • This would be a matchup of top defenses, as Florida is tied for 26th nationally in scoring defense (21.1.0 points per game), while Iowa ranks 14th (18.6).

Michigan State vs. Auburn

  • The Spartans and the Tigers met once, in the 1938 Orange Bowl. The Tigers won the game 6-0.
  • The Spartans have played in three previous Citrus Bowl games, including a 37-34 victory over Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators in 2000.
  • Michigan State has also made one appearance in the Camping World Bowl, a 24-21 defeat at the hands of Boston College in the 2007 game.


Click here to check out weekly media projections from earlier this season.

 For a breakdown of the latest CFP poll and what it means for the Citrus Bowl and Camping World Bowl, click here.


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