FCS Team Selection Committee’s Preseason Bowl Projections
Before the 2016-17 season started, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee made their way-too-early predictions for which teams in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC will be coming to Orlando at the end of the year. Here are the results of the committee’s guesses:
The most popular picks for the Russell Athletic Bowl were the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC and the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12.
This would be Miami’s fifth appearance in the Russell Athletic Bowl and their first since 2013. The Hurricanes are 2-2 all-time in the bowl, but are still looking for their first win since the game moved to Orlando in 2001. Mark Richt is looking to lead Miami to the promised land in his first season back at his alma mater after spending the last 15 seasons as head coach of Georgia.
Despite having the second-most bowl game appearances (53) in NCAA history, trailing only Alabama (61), Texas would be making its first postseason appearance in Orlando. The Longhorns enter the season with high hopes in Charlie Strong’s third season at the helm in Austin. The young team’s potential was seen in the season’s opening week when Texas knocked off No. 10 Notre Dame 50-47 in double overtime.
Louisville and Oklahoma State were also popular picks among the Team Selection Committee. Louisville made its only Orlando bowl appearance in 2013 when they topped Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 36-9. If the Cowboys are selected it would be their first time playing in the Russell Athletic Bowl and their second bowl in Orlando overall. Oklahoma State’s first postseason trip to Orlando came in 1976 when they defeated BYU in the Tangerine Bowl, 49-21.
The Team Selection Committee favored Michigan State in the Big Ten and Georgia in the SEC for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. If the Spartans and Bulldogs meet on New Year’s Eve, it would be a rematch of the 2009 Citrus Bowl. In that game, Matthew Stafford threw three second half touchdowns to clinch the victory for Georgia and earn himself MVP honors along the way.
The Bulldogs are 4-1-1 all-time in Orlando and hold the record for most appearances and victories (tied with Tennessee) in Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl history. Georgia’s last trip to Orlando came in 2013 when they outscored Nebraska, 45-31.
Michigan State is no stranger to Orlando as well. The Spartans have appeared in the bowl three times, having lost their two most recent visits after a 37-34 win over Florida in their initial trip in 2000.
Iowa and Tennessee are also common choices among our scouts to appear in The City Beautiful this postseason. Iowa’s lone appearance in the bowl game came in 2005 where they shocked LSU on the final play of the game. Hawkeyes quarterback Drew Tate launched a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holiday as time expired to give Iowa the victory over the Tigers in Nick Saban’s final game as LSU’s head coach before going to the NFL.
The Volunteers are tied with Georgia for most victories in the bowl’s history with four, but they have not appeared in the game since 2002 when they defeated Michigan. Tennessee is also tied with Auburn and Penn State for the second-most appearances (trailing only Georgia) in the bowl’s history with five.
If a Big Ten team is assigned to play in the non-semifinal Orange Bowl this season, the Citrus Bowl will then host the top non-CFP selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference (inclusive of Notre Dame) against the top non-CFP selection from the SEC.