By Jeff Palermo
If you like smash mouth football then Monday's Citrus Bowl contest between 17th ranked LSU and 14th ranked Notre Dame is the game for you. Both teams plan to move the football down the field on the ground and the first team to 200 yards rushing might win.
Notre Dame's rush attack is the 7th best in the country, averaging 279 yards a game. 225-pound ball carrier Josh Adams has rushed for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. He runs behind an offensive line that features two All-Americans, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. Both are likely first round picks.
When Adams isn't running the football, then its Notre Dame Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who is also big at 228 pounds. Wimbush has rushed for 765 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Tigers go into the game without three defensive starters as Arden Key, Donnie Alexander and Corey Thompson will not play, because of injuries. In a depth chart provided to the media, freshman K'Lavon Chaisson is listed as the starter for Key, former John Ehret star Michael Divinity starts for Thompson and freshman Tyler Taylor gets the start for Alexander at middle linebacker.
Expect sophomore Devin White to get a lot of tackles like he's done all season. The Springhill, Louisiana, native has 127 tackles in 12 games and had 15 of them against Auburn, another team that likes to run the football.
LSU can key on the Fighting Irish's run game, because they are not a great passing team. Notre Dame's pass offense ranks 103rd in the country. Wimbush has completed only 50% of his passes and thrown for 1,818 yards. Many of best targets will not play on New Year's Day.
Second-leading receiver Chase Claypool will not play because of an injured shoulder. Third-leading receiver Kevin Stepherson is suspended for the game and so is tight end Alize Mack, who has 19 catches.
LSU running back Derius Guice is expected to play, despite missing several bowl practices. Guice has been hampered by an ankle injury all season long, but still has 1,153 yards rushing and needs just 24 yards to eclipse 3,000 yard mark for his career.
Marrero native Darrel Williams will look to finish his LSU career with a bang. The 229-pound senior has 776 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season.
Notre Dame is so-so stopping the run as they've allowed 153 yards a game. The Fighting Irish's best player on defense might be cornerback Julian Love. The sophomore from Illinois has three interceptions, returned two of them for a touchdown and has 20 passes defensed.
LSU is the best in the nation when it comes to taking care of the football. They've only turned it over 8 times which is the fewest in the nation and currently ties for the fewest in a single-season in NCAA history with five teams.
If LSU takes care of the football, I like their chances to win 27-20.