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LSU, Louisville happy to be playing in Citrus Bowl

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Several fascinating matchups are in store for the 2016-17 bowl season. The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando is certainly one of them.

The LSU Tigers are among college football’s most prestigious programs over time while the Louisville Cardinals are on the verge of joining elite status through recent success. Both have big name players.

This game is expected to feature the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is the favorite to win the award, which will be announced on Saturday.

Someone that passes for 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns along with rushing for 1,538 yards and 20 touchdowns has a pretty good shot at winning.

LSU has running back Leonard Fournette, who was expected to be a Heisman contender, but had a subpar year by his standards. Any falloff was more than compensated by Derrius Guice, who will challenge the Cardinal defense with his enormous skills.

“We are so excited to be able to play a great Louisville team that has a great player in Lamar Jackson,” said LSU Coach Ed Orgeron. “They are very well coached by Coach (Bobby) Petrino and his staff. What a great opportunity for our team.”

It will be extra special for Orgeron because it will be his first game as the Tigers’ Head Coach. After becoming interim coach after the firing of Les Miles, Orgeron was given the job full time on November 26.

Petrino and the Cardinals are looking to make a season-ending statement after losing their last two games, including a 41-38 shocker against Kentucky. They were a far cry at the end of the season from what they were when they torched Florida State by 43 points.

Louisville’s Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, made the Orlando tourism officials very happy with their school’s acceptance of the bid.

“Orlando is an outstanding destination for our players, staff and families, as well as our fans,” said Jurich. “It’s a great reward for our program and fans for an outstanding season.”

Will both teams bring strong traveling parties?

LSU always travels well and is expected to use up their allotment of 10,000 tickets and likely ask for more. Louisville fans may use their allotment as well. Six weeks ago they were hoping to play in the College Football Playoffs, but a New Year’s Six bowl is an adequate substitute.

Game officials and ABC executives hope this will be a much better game than last year. Michigan defeated Florida 41-7.

Kickoff is 11:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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