LSU faced Notre Dame in a bowl game for the second time in five seasons in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. The game started in a light drizzle — odd for Orlando — and ended with a shower of questions for LSU as they head into the long college football off season. And that’s something that’s becoming all too familiar for Tiger faithful.
LSU Squanders Citrus Bowl, Loses to Notre Dame 21-17
In a similar fashion to the Music City Bowl match up between these two teams several years ago, LSU simply squandered their chances on Monday. The match-up with the Irish presented a competitive battle. The Tigers’ defense played as competitive as they could have. But the offense was scrappy at best. Danny Etling did have a few solid throws, but he needed to be more efficient for the offense to thrive. With the lack of efficiency on the offensive side, LSU had trouble reaching the end zone when they needed to.
The Tigers held a 17-14 lead with nearly two minutes remaining, but the Irish of Notre Dame struck on a well-thrown pass from quarterback Ian Book to Miles Boykin with 1:28 left. That score gave the Irish the 21-17 lead, and eventually the win. There were multiple issues offensively for LSU, as they had trouble capitalizing on drives in the first half. The Tigers are now 1-1 in the Citrus Bowl over the past two seasons.
Early Tigers Miscues
It all started when LSU missed two field goals early in the game. Those two mistakes hurt the Tigers terribly in the first half. Notre Dame had trouble kickstarting their offense as well. The first half was about as competitive as it could be for both defenses. The Tigers’ stalled on their first drive when they had third and goal at the 1-yard line and squandered the chance to score. Then the first missed field goal happened and the Tigers were out of luck at that point.
Notre Dame led 3-0 at halftime, in what was a defensive showdown through the first 30 minutes of play. The second half, though, proved to be better. LSU found their way offensively a few times as Derrius Guice scored two receiving touchdowns to give LSU the lead. Guice also became just the fifth player in LSU history to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark in rushing.
Book For The Win
Irish quarterback Book played a solid game in the fill-in role. Book came out and proved that he can lead Notre Dame heading into the future. As for star running back Josh Adams, his day was not as successful. Adams was stymied by the Tigers’ defense all game long and could never really get going in the backfield. But the Irish didn’t need to rely on the rushing attack, as Book and his air attack sealed the game for Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. Just one year ago, Kelly was under scrutiny for the Irish finishing 4-8, though the program backed him as head coach. A ten-win season should quite that crowd for the time being.
What Lies Ahead
This game had a ton of meaning for both teams, but especially LSU. This could be the final game for offensive coordinator Matt Canada, as he could be on his way out. Many fans are giving Ed Orgeron heat for the way the Tigers’ coaching staff handled Monday’s game. Orgeron is in somewhat of despair with some of the Tigers fans for not falling back on his words. LSU finished the season 9-4, while Notre Dame finished 10-3. Quality seasons for both teams with tremendous talent and upside. For Tiger fans, the 2018 season is a long way away as they prepare for a new-look Tiger team next season.
After going four straight seasons with 10-wins, LSU has now went four straight seasons with nine wins or less. In a program with this much talent, this much money, and this many demands, it’s only a matter of time before this shower of questions turns into a storm of discontent.