Notre Dame squeezes out Citrus Bowl berth vs. LSU

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Now, the football programs of Notre Dame and Catawba (N.C.) College have something in common.

Texas A&M-Commerce, Presbyterian and Juniata, too.

The CFB No. 14 Irish (9-3) are headed to Orlando, Fla., to the Overton’s Citrus Bowl to play 17th-ranked LSU (9-3), Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC.

It’s the first appearance by the Irish in the Citrus Bowl or any of its previous incarnations. Catawba played — and won — in the first two (1947 and ’48), back when it was known at the Tangerine Bowl.

It will be LSU’s fifth appearance in the Citrus Bowl and its forerunners, and the second in as many seasons. The Tigers took down Louisville and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, 29-9, last postseason.

Notre Dame and LSU will be meeting for the 12th time ever and fourth occasion in postseason play. The last clash between these two was in the 2014 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., with the Irish prevailing, 31-28.

ND leads the all-time series, 6-5.

The Irish last won in the state of Florida during the 2002 regular season with a 34-24 victory at Florida State under coach Tyrone Willingham. ND started a six-game losing streak in the Sunshine State later that season, falling to North Carolina State, 28-6, in the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville.

The Irish lost to Florida State, 18-14, in Orlando in the 2011 Champ Sports Bowl, which is now the Camping World Bowl and will be held Dec. 28 this postseason.

Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith (9) brings down LSU’s Leonard Fournette (7) during the Music City Bowl, Dec. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The Irish and LSU will meet again Jan. 1 in the Citrus Bowl at Orlando, Fla. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)