For the first time in history, the University of Notre Dame football team is headed to the Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s.
Notre Dame (9-3, No. 14 College Football Playoff) will meet Southeastern Conference representative LSU (9-3, No. 17 College Football Playoff) at 1 p.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in 65,000-seat Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
The Irish qualify as a representative of the Atlantic Coast Conference in their fourth year of an agreement that also involves Notre Dame playing five games per season against ACC opponents (some seasons feature four games, others feature six). This marks the 16th different bowl game in which Notre Dame has participated.
It’s the seventh bowl appearance in eight seasons under Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly and 10th in the last 13 years overall. With a win in the Citrus Bowl, Notre Dame would secure its 18th all-time double-digit win season, second in three years and third in six seasons.
“We’re thrilled with the opportunity and excited about the challenge that awaits us with LSU -- one of the premier programs in all of college football,” said Kelly. “We had quite a battle with the Tigers a few years ago in a bowl game, and I’d expect a similar contest this time around.
“Our University has never participated in the Citrus Bowl, one of the longest-standing bowl games in the nation, and we’re delighted to play in a bowl game on Jan. 1 for the second time in three years.”
ABC will televise the game and ESPN Radio will air the game. The Notre Dame IMG College Football Radio Network also will carry the game.
This marks the 72nd edition of Orlando’s New Year’s Day classic, the seventh-oldest bowl game in the country, with previous incarnations including the Tangerine Bowl (1947–82), Florida Citrus Bowl (1983–93), CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl (1994–99), Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl (2000), Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl (2001–02), Capital One Bowl (2003–14) and Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (2015–17).
Over the last 25 years, the game has consistently featured an SEC and Big Ten affiliation--including five appearances by Michigan, four each by Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee, three each by Auburn, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, two each by Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and one each by Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern and Purdue.
The game featured an ACC affiliation last season with Louisville’s appearance against LSU.
For Notre Dame, it's a 36th postseason bowl appearance (17-18 record) after the University declined to participate in bowl games from 1925-68. It's the seventh season under Kelly the Irish have played in the postseason--following appearances in the 2010 Sun Bowl, the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, the 2013 Bowl Championship Series title game, the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl, the 2014 Music City Bowl and 2015 Fiesta Bowl.
The Irish have played seven times previously in the Cotton Bowl (following 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1992 and 1993 seasons), five times in the Fiesta Bowl (1988, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2015), five times in the Orange Bowl ( 1972, 1974, 1989, 1990, 1995), four times in the Sugar Bowl (1973, 1980, 1991, 2006) and once in the Rose Bowl (1924). Additional bowl appearances sent the Irish to the Gator Bowl (1976, 1998, 2002), Liberty Bowl (1983), Aloha/Hawaii Bowl (1984, 2008), Independence Bowl (1997), Insight Bowl (2004), Sun Bowl (2010), Champs Sports Bowl (2011), BCS Championship Game (2012), Pinstripe Bowl (2013) and Music City Bowl (2014).
Previous Notre Dame postseason appearances have produced record numbers in terms of both attendance and television ratings:
-- Irish bowl games drew record crowds at Sun-Life Stadium (80,120 for the 2013 BCS Championship Game vs. Alabama), the Sugar Bowl (85,161 in 1973 vs. Alabama), the Champs Sports Bowl (68,305 in 2011 vs. Florida State, tops among games played at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium), the Sun Bowl (54,021 in 2010 vs. Miami), the Hawaii Bowl (43,487 in 2008 vs. Hawaii), the Insight Bowl (45,971 in 2004 vs. Oregon State, tops among games at Chase Field), the Independence Bowl (50,459 in 1997 vs. LSU) and the Pinstripe Bowl (47,122 in 2013 vs. Rutgers).
-- Notre Dame bowl games garnered record television ratings at the Sugar Bowl (28.8 on NBC in 1973 vs. Alabama), the Hawaii Bowl (3.7 on ESPN in 2008 vs. Hawaii), the Independence Bowl (4.5 on ESPN in 1997 vs. LSU, best since game has been on ESPN/ESPN2 since 1992) and the Pinstripe Bowl (3.2 on ESPN in 2013) .
Notre Dame and LSU will meet for the 12th time and the first time since the 2014 season. The Irish lead the all-time series 6-5--with Notre Dame playing host to the Tigers in Notre Dame Stadium in 1970 (a 3-0 win on a 24-yard Scott Hempel field goal with 2:54 left in the game), 1981 (a 27-9 win in Gerry Faust's first game as Irish head coach), 1985 (a 10-7 loss) and 1998 (a 39-36 victory). The Irish traveled to Baton Rouge to play games in 1971 (a 28-8 loss), 1984 (a 30-22 win that landed Faust on the cover of Sports Illustrated), 1986 (a 21-19 loss) and 1997 (a 24-6 victory in the first game in Notre Dame history in which the Irish played without a penalty or a turnover). The teams also met three times in bowl games. Notre Dame defeated the Tigers, 31-28, on a field goal as time expired in the 2014 Music City Bowl, while LSU won 27-9 in the 1997 Independence Bowl and 41-14 in the Sugar Bowl to finish the 2006 campaign.
This marks the ninth time Notre Dame has faced an SEC opponent in a bowl game--following three meetings with Alabama (Sugar in 1973, Orange in 1974, BCS title game in 2012), three with LSU (Independence in 1997, Sugar in 2006, Music City in 2014) and one each against Georgia (Sugar in 1980) and Florida (Sugar in 1991). The Irish are 4-4 in previous bowl matchups with SEC teams--with victories over top-rated and unbeaten Alabama teams in both 1973 and 1974 and over third-rated Florida in 1991. The Irish have played three times in bowl games against current SEC member Texas A&M, but all three of those matchups came when the Aggies were members of the Southwest Conference.
Notre Dame's only previous appearances in Orlando came in 1994, 2000 and 2011. The unranked Irish nearly upset No. 8 Florida State (23-16) in a regular-season meeting in ‘94, while the No. 25 Seminoles rallied from a 14-3 deficit to slip past the Irish, 18-14, in the ‘11 Champs Sports Bowl. Twenty-ranked Notre Dame routed Navy, 45-14, in ‘00.