This is a new series based off the ranking of the 100 best games of the 2017 college football season as compiled by Bill Connelly and the staff of SB Nation (read the list in full here) that reviews each game on the list to talk about the players and coaches involved, what they meant in 2017 and will mean in the future, and to determine if the game is worthy of its ranking.
SB Nation Top 100 Rank: #100
Game: 2018 Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame 21, LSU 17
Kickoff location, date and time: Orlando, FL, Noon EST, January 1, 2018
What’s at stake: A chance to close out the 2017 season by earning a tenth win and defeating a ranked opponent in a nationally-televised bowl game. Also, Brian Kelly and Ed Orgeron can avoid getting fired a little while longer.
First quarter recap: No scoring. LSU running back Derrius Guice does a great impression of his old teammates Leonard Fournette and son’s an unprepared Notre Dame safety (head to the 44-second mark of the video below). DJ Chark can’t field a punt. Neither team is good at throwing the ball, so naturally the first play-call for both offenses was to throw the ball deep down field because BOWL SZN BEYOTCHES. 0-0
Second quarter recap: The best drive of the game so far involves LSU nickel and diming their way to inside the one-yard line, so of course they can’t get an inch on third and goal, setting up a false start on fourth down and a MISSED 24-YARD FIELD GOAL. COACH OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
It feels like Matt Canada didn’t want to work with Orgeron anymore much more so than vice versa, as the moment LSU starts digging into Canada’s bag of tricks, they make some moves on offense. And yes, both defenses are flying around and making big plays, but LSU just missed a second field goal with a different kicker, so how much is this also trash offense?
Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book makes his second appearance of the game and converts a 3rd and 19 with his legs to start a nice little drive at the end of the first half. Despite hitting 3 of 4 passes for 33 yards and showing off his scrambling ability, Book takes a bad third-down sack from polar-bear-sized Tiger defensive tackler Rashard Lawrence. Justin Yoon bails Book out by matching his season long and hitting a 46-yard field goal with 4 seconds left for, mercifully, the game’s first points. 3-0 ND
Third quarter recap: Another muffed puuuuuuunt!!! This time Notre Dame slips up, giving LSU its best field position of the day. And LSU actually scores a touchdown off that turnover!!! Tunnel screen breaks big for Guice on a 21-yard catch and run.
Big-time freshman cornerback Greedy Williams makes his presence felt with an interception to stymie a solid drive that Book was leading. Greedy’s going to do this corner thing very well for a very long time.
One play after stud RB Josh Adams has to run 10 yards to get 2, Donte’ Jackson breaks up a double-reverse pass by Notre Dame, forcing Yoon to hit a new-season-long 49-yard field goal. LSU and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda still got it, but I’m too busy crying at the Chiefs-Titans playoff promos to notice. 7-6 LSU
Fourth quarter recap: Notre Dame has a linebacker named Martini, which is a shame because Guice roadgrades him out of existence. LSU uses Guice and Darrel Williams to get inside the 1 again and finishes the job this time, with Guice catching his second TD of the day on a naked bootleg on third down.
3rd and 19 for Notre Dame on the ensuing drive, and Ian Book throws a dart to Myles Boykin for a first down. Then Book waits forever on 3rd and goal but keeps his composure and eventually hits Michael Young for a TD. This kid is gonna be the starting QB for the Irish in 2018. Add on Adams taking a shovel pass and just barreling in for the tying 2-point conversion and we got ACTION.
While LSU just disregards any illusion of balance by having Williams run the Wildcat, the promos for the Rose Bowl make me very sad as I know we won’t be getting to that beautiful boy until muuuuch later in the list. Banging away with the big backs works, but only so much as a field goal attempt finally shoots through to put the Tigers on top (And I mean shoot, it was such an ugly kick that it looked more like a hook off the tee).
HOLY HELL MYLES BOYKIN FOR THE LEAD
Danny Etling has 2 timeouts and less than 90 seconds to score a touchdown. Danny Etling is not Tom Brady. Julian Love makes a couple of nice pass breakups to end the game. Notre Dame 21, LSU 17
Best player on the field that day: Myles Boykin He only made 3 catches, but he amassed over 100 yards and scored the eventual game-winner. I mean, LOOK AT THIS EFFING CATCH.
Best future pro in the game: Devin White The offensive-line tandem of Mike McGlinchy and Quenton Nelson is hard to ignore, especially when Nelson threw a pile-drive block so vicious it knocked LSU D-tackle Ed Alexander out of the game at one point, but the Tigers’ middle linebacker is the next version of Deion Jones and Duke Riley. He was everywhere on the field on this day and will be everywhere a football can be found in the future.
Best players coming back in 2018: All the LSU defensive tackles and linebackers It’d be easy to say White and Greedy Williams are going to be All-Americans this coming season, but it’s hard not to notice how a bevy of young players like Lawrence, Alexander Rahsaan Thornton, Jacob Phillips and Michael Divinity played so well, especially in shutting down Adams on the day he was primed to set a single-season Notre Dame rushing record.
What it means for 2018 for Notre Dame: Book should be the starting quarterback heading into fall camp for the Irish ahead of Brandon Wimbush, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the answer. There were moments of greatness, but no real flashes of star power. If Kelly can finally recruit the guy who can make that happen, plug him in, but for right now Book is the safest bet.
What it means for 2018 for LSU: Canada eventually did leave the Tigers and is now the offensive coordinator at Maryland, so while the Terps should be oodles of fun this season, expect the Tigers to go back to the ground-and-pound mentality they showed much of this game, just without the Canada wrinkles like the jet sweep or the wide variety of screens. LSU will get plenty of stops with Aranda’ s defense, but with Guice and Williams both gone from the backfield and Chark no longer at receiver, Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow or highly-touted recruit Myles Brennan will need to step up right away if the Tigers are going to move the ball with any consistency.
Does the game deserve its ranking? A mostly dull game in a wet and messy Florida storm was saved by a tremendous fourth quarter and a spectacular game-winning play to decide a New Year’s Day bowl between two of the game’s blue bloods. Take the Boykin catch away and it probably doesn’t sneak on to the list, but the fact that it makes it in right at 100 is just the right spot. And, once again, THIS CATCH.
NEXT TIME: #99-Southern Miss 31, UTSA 29