The 2022 Citrus Bowl features two teams that had up-and-down seasons and ended up reaching their conference championship games in a different fashion. The No. 17 LSU Tigers (9-4) have lost two games in a row as they look to finish their first season under Brian Kelly with 10 wins. Meanwhile, Purdue (8-5) will move into a coach transition this offseason as Ryan Walters takes over for the departing Jeff Brohm.
These teams enter the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl having never met in their history. Monday’s kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, airing on ABC. LSU is favored by 15 points with a point total of 54.
LSU Tigers Overview
The No. 17 LSU Tigers (9-4) started with a close loss to Florida State before winning four in a row. They were blown out at home by Tennessee but recovered to beat Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Arkansas, all in a row. But a late season stumble to Texas A&M and a 20-point loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game have the Tigers still searching for their 10th win.
Season one under Coach Kelly has been a success with an SEC West title and a January bowl game. Quarterback Jayden Daniels has already announced he is returning for 2023 after throwing for 2,774 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. The Arizona State transfer is the Tigers leading rusher with 813 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he has just three interceptions.
Josh Williams is the leading running back with 532 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has a pair of 100-yard games on the season and picked up 56 yards against Georgia in the SECCG. Noah Cain has eight rushing scores to go with 351 yards, while John Emery Jr. has five touchdowns and 328 yards.
Malik Nabers caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown against Georgia and is the leading receiver on the season. The sophomore can stretch defenses with a 13.6 ypc average, and he has 854 yards on the season. Kayshon Boutte has 538 yards, and Jaray Jenkins has six touchdown catches, but both will opt out to prepare for the NFL draft.
The Tigers defense averages nearly two sacks per game, but they have just six interceptions on the season. They allow 209 passing ypg and 153 rushing ypg to go with 23.7 ppg.
The Boilermakers have played in one January bowl game since 2003, losing by 44 to Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on January 1, 2013. They started the season 1-2 with losses to Penn State and Syracuse before winning four in a row. After losses to Iowa and Wisconsin, the Boilers upset Illinois and won their final three BIG games to reach the Big Ten Championship Game, a loss to Michigan.
Brohn left earlier this month to return to his alma mater, Louisville, as head coach. Purdue quickly pounced on Walters, the Illinois defensive coordinator, as their new man in charge.
Purdue may end up being a run-heavy team on Monday as quarterback Aidan O’Connell and top wideout Charlie Jones won’t play. Running back Devin Mackabee, a walk-on headed for a scholarship needs 80 yards on Monday to hit the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Mackabee averages 5.1 ypc and has nine touchdowns on the season.
O’Connell threw for 3,480 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions on the season. With the starter out, Purdue will have senior Austin Burton under center. Burton threw for 199 yards on the season with three touchdowns, all against FAU in September. He won’t have Jones, who has 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns or tight end Payne Durham, leaving Burton with the No. 3 option TJ Sheffield who has 424 yards on the season.
LSU is favored by 15 points on the spread and -700 on the money line. Purdue is a +500 money line underdog and +15 points on the spread. The total is 54 points, with both the over and under at -110.
The Big Ten was 4-0 in bowl games before Michigan, and Ohio State both lost in the playoffs on Saturday. The Citrus Bowl is one of two games on Monday to feature SEC v. Big ten competition as Illinois faces Mississippi State in the ReliaQuest Bowl. Iowa beat Kentucky on Saturday, while Georgia beat Ohio State so the conferences are 1-1 against each other so far.
Both defenses are hurting with top cornerbacks opting out, and big-play wideouts are also gone on both sides. LSU has a big advantage at quarterback, but Purdue has the advantage at running back.
The big key, though is in preparation and with the coaching staff. LSU’s coaches have been to these types of games before, while Purdue’s staff is in flux, and it is hard to even know what kind of offense or defense they will run on Monday. LSU wins this one, running away.
Pick: LSU -15 (-110)