LSU is preparing for ‘a war’ with Notre Dame in Citrus Bowl

Notre Dame's Josh Adams (33) is tackled by North Carolina State's Jarius Morehead (31) during the first half of a game earlier this season in South Bend. (BY The Associated Press)
LSU running back Derrius Guice (5) celebrates his touchdown carry in the second half of a game earlier this season against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La. (By The Associated Press)
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly watches during the first half of a game against North Carolina earlier this season in Chapel Hill, N.C. (By The Associated Press)
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron walks on the field before a game earlier this season against Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La. (By The Associated Press)

There may not be two more tradition-laden college football programs in the country than Notre Dame and LSU, so it won’t be surprising that both of these teams will take an “old-school” approach to beating the tar out of each other in the upcoming Citrus Bowl.

The Fighting Irish (9-3) will face the Tigers (9-3) in the Orlando bowl game Jan. 1 (1 p.m., ABC).

“We’ve had a great match-up with them before,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said of LSU. “We know what to expect, one of the top teams in the country.”

“I think it’ll make for great New Year’s Day football and I think our fan base and LSU’s fan base will travel in force to see this match-up between two nationally-ranked teams.”

The Tigers’ season was really defined by the success of its run game.

When LSU was successful on the ground, it won, and when it wasn’t it lost. It really is that simple.

The same can be said for the Fighting Irish, who stumbled down the stretch with a pair of losses in their final three games, in large part, due to an ineffective running attack.

Those two strategies will be brought to the forefront in the Citrus Bowl.

“You have the utmost respect every time you play Notre Dame,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “It’s going to be a physical game. It’s going to be a war, but we’re looking forward to playing in it.”

RELATED STORY:To play or not to play? Notre Dame captain sees both sides of complex issue

The Tigers feature a pair of backs that combined for nearly 2,000 yards rushing in Derrius Guice (1,153 yards) and Darrell Williams.

In the nine LSU victories, the Tigers ran the ball an average of 46 times. However, that number dropped to 33 in the Tigers’ three defeats.

“They have outstanding athletes and physicality up front,” Kelly said. “Certainly, LSU is known for that, having a great running back, and they’ve got another one now in Guice.”

Notre Dame was touting junior runner Josh Adams for the Heisman Trophy midway through this season, but injuries slowed Adams toward the end.

Adams rushed for over 100 yards in six of Notre Dame’s first eight games, but only did once – and that was for 106 yards against Navy – in the final four games. However, he ultimately finished the regular season with 1,386 yards, which left Orgeron impressed.

“He is very big and strong,” Orgeron said of Adams. “With the big offensive line like Notre Dame usually has, he’s a tough runner.”

“I know that it is going to be a challenge for our guys, our front seven. We’re going to have to tackle and it’s going to be exactly what a bowl game ought to be.”

These two teams met in the 2014 Music City Bowl in Nashville, with Notre Dame winning on a last-second field goal 31-28.

“Ed has a great staff,” Kelly said. “He’s got great talent and they’re playing really great football.”

“It’s a different team from that 2014 team, obviously, but the talent is still there.”

It will be the second straight season that LSU competes in the Citrus Bowl.

Last year, the Tigers smoked Louisville 29-9, as Guice earned the game’s Most Valuable Player Award. Orgeron said just facing the Irish will get his players amped up enough to play in the game again.

“I have a lot of guys that are excited,” Orgeron said. “Just tell our team that we play Notre Dame (and) that is the best motivation. Anytime that you play Notre Dame you have a lot of respect for who they are and what they do up there. The tradition, that alone is enough.”


Kelly said that his team had this past two weeks basically off, as the Irish coaches have been out recruiting and the team awaited its bowl destination.

Notre Dame will host its season-ending awards program Friday and then begin the first of 15 practices on Saturday.

“We’ll go Saturday and Sunday,” Kelly said. “Then we’ll navigate through (final exams) and begin with our scouting report the following week.”

The Irish players will break for a few days over Christmas before reporting to Orlando on Dec. 26.

“From our perspective,” Kelly said, “it’s great that we can get some work in (on campus), and then get a break for our players, so they can spend Christmas at home with the family.”

“Playing on New Year’s Day really is good for our football team.”

For more on college football, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.