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#8 UCF vs. #11 LSU: Fiesta Bowl Preview and Prediction

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The validity of the College Football Playoff is on the line as UCF takes on an SEC powerhouse for the second straight year.

NCAA Football: AAC Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

UCF gets a shot against an SEC blueblood for the second year in a row in this year’s Fiesta Bowl. I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most anticipated bowl games of the season. Whether you’re someone who believes UCF got snubbed by the playoff committee or you think UCF doesn’t belong, a lot of eyes will be tuning in to see how they fair against #11 LSU.

Kickoff

The 8th-ranked UCF Knights and the 11th-ranked LSU Tigers will kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET (11 a.m. local time) at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

TV

Series

This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

LSU Coming In

Coming into the season, LSU wasn’t expected to have much success but Coach O led his squad to a 9-3 record despite having the toughest-ranked strength of schedule according to the S&P Rankings. The highlight of their season was a 36-16 victory over then #2 Georgia. If the Tigers hadn’t blown 4th quarter leads against Florida and Texas A&M, I could almost guarantee they would have gotten the 4 seed in the playoffs.

What to Watch For

Which LSU offense will we see?

The Tigers have proven they can be dangerous on offense. They racked up 36 points and 475 yards of offense against Georgia, who is a top 20 defense. QB Joe Burrow has shown he can be lethal with his feet and that’s been an area UCF has struggled with all season. They’ve also shown they can be one dimensional at times. If they can’t establish the power run game, it may be up to their defense to keep them in this game.

New faces, same results?

The Tigers are going to be missing a lot of key players on defense when they take on the Knights. This is a squad that is #22 in fewest points allowed per game (20.9) and #30 in total yards allowed per game (346) despite going up against four of the nation’s top 20 offenses. A storied SEC powerhouse like LSU definitely has the depth to replace these players but how much of an impact will their absence have?

Can #UCFast have the same level of production?

I think Josh Heupel’s game plan we’ve seen all season will work perfect in this matchup. Establish the ground game with Darriel Mack Jr., Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins Jr., and then test their secondary vertically. With three of LSU’s top corners not playing, the deep ball will play a huge part in the success of UCF’s offense. Mack showed against Memphis he has a big time arm with the ability to hit his receivers in stride downfield. As long as turnovers are limited, UCF can score 30 or more.

Final Details

Line: UCF is a 7.5-point underdog (52% of the money is on UCF). Over/under is 55.5 (63% is on the over) (OddsShark).

Pick: UCF 30, LSU 24

Poll

Who are you taking?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    UCF
    (76 votes)
  • 21%
    LSU
    (21 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now