Game to be played at Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Lamar Jackson toyed with defenses for most of 2016 en route to becoming Louisville’s first Heisman Trophy winner, but he’ll likely face his toughest test of the season on Dec. 31 at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla against LSU. The sophomore quarterback is the only player in FBS history to throw for 30-plus touchdowns and rush for 20-plus TDs in the regular season. The Tigers rank sixth in FBS in scoring defense (16.4 points) and 13th in total defense (323 yards per game).
LSU running back Leonard Fournette will not play after declaring for the NFL Draft earlier in the month. One year after rushing for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns – both school records – as a sophomore, the 2015 All-American was dogged by an August left ankle injury that forced him to miss four regular-season games as a junior. Despite missing nearly half the season, he’ll leave as the Tigers’ single-season leader in rushing yards per game (162.8), career rushing yards per game (119.7) and 200-yard games (five).
The Cardinals ended the regular season with a thud – allowing 11 sacks and committing 15 penalties in a 36-10 setback at Houston before losing 41-38 to Kentucky to snap a five-game winning streak in the series – and things have only gotten worse since. Linebackers James Hearns and Henry Famurewa were among three students shot near the school’s campus hours after Jackson won the Heisman on Dec. 10. Less than a week later, the school suspended offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway for his role in the Wake Forest play-sharing scandal.
TV: 11 a.m. ET, ABC.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the line with LSU as 3.5-point favorites and that has been bet down to a field goal. The total opened at 60 and has been bet down half-point to 59.5. Check out the complete line history here
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a gorgeous afternoon for football at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The forecast is calling for sunny skies, minimal winds out of the south and temperatures in the mid-70’s.
Louisiana State – FB Bry’Kiethon Mouton (probable, undisclosed), WR Travin Dural (probable, undisclosed), DE Arden Key (probable, shoulder), CB Tre’Davious White (probable, ankle), DT Christian LaCouture (doubtful, knee), DE Andre Anthony (doubtful, academics), OL Donavaughn Campbell (out, shoulder), RB Leonard Fournette (out, ankle), LB Kendell Beckwith (out, knee)
Louisville – RB L.J. Scott (questionable, hamstring), WR Jamari Staples (questionable, undisclosed), LB James Hearns (doubtful, elbow), LB Henry Famurewa (doubtful, foot)
ABOUT LSU (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS, 2-7-2 OU): Darrius Guice emerged as one of the most explosive running backs in the country, averaging a league-high 7.9 yards per carry and running for a SEC-best 14 touchdowns while finishing second in the conference in rushing (1,249), even breaking Fournette’s single-game school rushing record 33 days after he set it with 285 yards against Texas A&M. Danny Etling threw for 324 yards versus the Aggies as well, giving the Tigers a 300-yard passer and 200-yard rusher in the same game for the first time in school history. The defense is led by a pair of All-Americans in junior safety Jamal Adams (70 tackles) and senior linebacker Kendell Beckwith (9.1 tackles per game, second in the SEC).
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (9-3 SU, 5-6-1 ATS, 8-4 OU): Despite committing five of the Cardinals’ seven turnovers during their season-ending losing streak, Jackson totaled five touchdowns to set the ACC record for touchdowns responsible for in a single season (51) while breaking the single-season school marks for rushing yards (1,538) and 100-yard rushing performances (eight). Tight end Cole Hikutini (eight touchdowns), who is one of four Cardinals with at least 593 receiving yards, joins wideouts James Quick (six), Jaylen Smith (six) and Reggie Bonnafon (five) with at least five receiving touchdowns. Hearns, who is tied for the ACC lead with five forced fumbles and leads the team with eight sacks, is expected to make a full recovery, as is Famurewa and the cheerleader involved in the shootings.
* Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.
* Cardinals are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
* Cardinals are 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 4-0-2 in Tigers last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 9-2 in Cardinals last 11 games on fieldturf.
For a full list of hot and cold trends click here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The betting public has their eye on the Cardinals with 60 percent of the wagers on the underdog. Over is grabbing 54 percent of the selections from Covers users. Check out complete consensus data here.