WHO: No. 8 UCF (12-0) vs. No. 11 LSU (9-3)
WHAT: The 48th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
WHEN: 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
THE SKINNY: Once again undefeated, UCF is looking to end the season with a win in a big bowl game against a team from the SEC. And if they do, get ready for another offseason full of conversation and debate about whether or not UCF’s claim to a second-straight national championship has any merit. Of course, to entertain that idea, UCF will have to take down LSU without star quarterback McKenzie Milton.
UCF has talented players capable of making some plays happen even without Milton. Freshman Darriel Mack Jr. continues to play in place of the injured Milton at quarterback, and he is capable of making some plays himself. But he’ll rely on the running attack of Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins to help take some of the pressure off of him against a stingy LSU defense. LSU has held their opponents to fewer than 20 points in four of their final six games. The only games allowing more than 20 points were against Alabama and Texas A&M, a crazy overtime marathon of a game to close out the regular season. Points could be difficult to come by for the Knights.
LSU’s offense should focus on wearing down a UCF defense that has had its issues this season. A shootout is not the type of game the Tigers want to get into. Instead, managing the clock with efficient drives led by Joe Burrow should be the key to a win for LSU. This should be a game dictated by LSU’s running game with Nick Brosette leading the charge. If the scoring gets out of hand, LSU may not be equipped to keep up the pace. Keeping the game from getting to that kind of tempo will be the key for LSU. Expect a relatively low-scoring Fiesta Bowl.
THE LINE: LSU -7.5
THE PREDICTION: LSU 24, UCF 16
The majority of players that end up transferring from one school to another probably leave on mostly positive terms with their previous school. In the case of quarterback Joe Burrow, there appear to be absolutely no bitter hostilities left at the table at Ohio State as far as Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is concerned.
Speaking to the media at a job fair recently at Ohio State, Meyer gave a glowing review of the conversations he had with Burrow and his family before Burrow made his decision to transfer to LSU.
“It was a situation that his last two weeks of spring were excellent,” Meyer said, according to 247 Sports. “I just talked to him the other day and his family, I saw his dad. He’s great. He’s a Buckeye forever and he’s going to go do the best he can at LSU and wish him well and I understand.”
Burrow was officially added to the LSU program last month. Burrow is expected to compete right away for the starting job with the Tigers after undergoing surgery for a broken hand last year. In Columbus, Meyer just named Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback for Ohio State this season.
Joe Burrow never stood much of a chance to start a football game for Ohio State while J.T. Barrett was still around in Columbus. But even after Barrett has (finally) moved on to the next stage of his football career, Burrow still felt it was in his best interest to start anew with a transfer to LSU. As Burrow gets started with the hope of sparking the LSU offense this fall, his former teammate sees big things on the horizon.
“I think the biggest attribute for him is he’s smart and knows where to go with the ball,” Barrett said to media in New Orleans at an event for New Orleans Saints rookies (Barrett signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent following the NFL Draft), per The Times-Picayune.
Barrett recalled Burrow in practices making some plays that impressed him and others, even though Burrow was buried on the depth chart behind Barrett.
“He was making throws where I turned and looked at the coach like, ‘Ooh wee!’,” Barrett said.
Burrow has officially been added to the LSU football program, and he has two years of eligibility remaining to use in Baton Rouge. Burrow is expected to compete for the starting job with Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan, and Lowell Narcisse, but he does appear to be a trendy favorite to win the job before the start of the season. LSU opens the 2018 season in Arlington, Texas against the Miami Hurricanes in Week 1.
Last week, quarterback Joe Burrow announced his commitment to LSU as he prepares to move on from Ohio State. Today, LSU made it officially official.
LSU has announced it has officially signed graduate transfer Burrow for the 2018 season, making the quarterback transfer eligible to play immediately this fall. Burrow will also have two years of eligibility with the Tigers, which could be a potential boost to the entire LSU offense in 2018 and potentially in 2019.
Burrow was a four-star recruit in Ohio State’s Class of 2015, but he could not get ahead of J.T. Barrett on the depth chart. He did, however, serve as Barrett’s backup in 2016 and would have carried the same responsibility in 2017 if not for a broken bone in his right hand.
At LSU, Burrow will jump head first into a quarterback competition with Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse. However, it is expected Burrow will soar to the top of the depth chart fairly quickly, and in time for LSU’s season opener in Arlington, Texas against Miami on Labor Day weekend. Nothing will be a given though, so Burrow needs to get to work right away and establish himself as the best option for Ed Orgeron and the Tigers.