ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) — The Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers (#20, 5-3 SEC) faced off against the University of Louisville Cardinals (#13, 7-1 ACC) for the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Saturday. Though LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron and Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino have faced off before while working with previous teams, this year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl match was LSU and Louisville’s first meeting on the gridiron. College football lovers on both sides were chomping at the bit to see this unique battle between the team with one of the nation’s strongest defensive lines in LSU and the team with one of the nation’s most winning head coaches in Louisville’s Bobby Petrino (#11, with a 71% win rate) and the 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
LSU and Louisville’s Gritty Showdown
In anticipation of the big game, the fans and coaches alike expected a tight matchup, but game day was another story. LSU came out fighting from the moment the first quarter began, blocking nearly every one of Louisville’s passes. LSU linebacker Devin White also sacked Jackson for a loss of nineteen yards on Louisville’s third scoring drive.
Offensively, neither team gained much headway first quarter. LSU’s first scoring drive led to a missed field goal attempt while Louisville scored a field goal at 7:14. During the drive, Jackson passed to wide receiver James Quick, who rushed for fifty-three yards to LSU’s 9 yard line, but LSU didn’t let Louisville get much further. Jackson carried the ball another two yards, but the next two downs saw incomplete passes, which forced the field goal on the fourth down. The end of first quarter score was 3-0 Louisville.
By second quarter, LSU’s offensive momentum increased and they scored the first touchdown in less than four minutes thanks to their starting the quarter in the red zone. The team scored its second touchdown on the second drive in just over seven minutes.
More interestingly, quarterback sacks surged in the second quarter. In some games, sacks are peppered in, but in this match, they were prevalent, with Jackson as the biggest target. He was sacked during four of Louisville’s five scoring drives, with the last sack causing a nine-yard loss resulting in a safety. Louisville managed another field goal before the clock stopped, leaving the halftime score at 16-6 LSU.
The slaughter continued in third quarter. Louisville started the drive in third and Jackson was sacked on the very first down for a loss of seven yards. From second quarter, Jackson realized he would have to do more carries than passes and adapted accordingly. This was seen in Louisville’s second scoring drive, in which Jackson rushed for twenty yards before getting sacked for a loss of two. LSU followed that with a forty-five-second drive to score. LSU running back Derrius Guice, who was named the game’s MVP, carried the ball twelve yards to ensure a first down, then rushed it seventy yards for LSU’s third touchdown. During LSU’s next scoring drive, they widened the gap simply because they could. With three minutes and four seconds left in the quarter, they scored a field goal. Louisville tried to counter on their next drive but couldn’t overcome the defense, leaving the third quarter score at 26-6 LSU.
Louisville wasted no time in fourth quarter getting points on the board, scoring a field goal on the first scoring drive and bringing the score to 26-9. LSU’s following drive marked the last point gain with a field goal, putting the final score at 29-9. The rest of the fourth was a clash of defensive lines, each team ensuring the other scored nothing else.
Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino expressed his disappointment during the post-game press conference. When FNN News asked him about what he told his seniors after the loss, he said he wished to give them the win, but thanked them for their incredible efforts.
FNN News asked LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron what the defining moment was in the game when he knew the team had it in the bag. “When the clock hit zero,” he replied, smiling. He explained that he’d witnessed games where a team will be down by double digits before the half and come back to win, so he and his team continue to keep the pressure on until the clock stops.