One of my favorite things about bowl season for Purdue is that they often get to play opponents that they don’t normally, and would possibly never, play a regular season game against. The exception to this rule is of course Central Michigan. This year is no different as Purdue is facing the LSU Tigers down in Orlando. In fact, Purdue and LSU have never faced one another in football. So no matter what happens during the game rest assured you’re seeing history unfold. With this being a brand new opponent for Purdue I’m sure you’ve got questions. Let’s answer some of those shall we?
First off, LSU is of course a member of the Southeastern Conference. You may have heard that football in that conference just means more and that might be true since generally basketball means less in this conference. LSU is a member of the SEC West along with perennial powerhouse Alabama. LSU finished the regular season with an 9-3 record and tied for first in their division with the aforementioned Crimson Tide. Having defeated Alabama 32-31 earlier in the season that meant that LSU, much like Purdue, represented the West division of their conference in their conference title game. Also much like Purdue, they weren’t able to knock off the prohibitive favorite with the Tigers losing to Georgia 50-30 and it honestly wasn’t that close. Putting up 30 points on Georgia though is pretty impressive.
LSU of course came into the season after hiring a name all Purdue fans will recognize in Brian Kelly. Kelly left Notre Dame, which generally is not a job that people leave for other jobs, to take over the Tigers. He immediately became his authentic self and began speaking with a Cajun accent. Then he began dancing around with high profile recruits in what was some sort of recruiting pitch? I’m honestly not sure but it’s another reminder of why I could never be a college football coach.
Let’s not mince words here. LSU is a good football team. They defeated Alabama, granted in a “down year” for Alabama, and any team that can do that has some pretty good players on there. They average just under 30 points per game which is good enough for 46th while holding opponents to just over 24 points per game which puts them at 41st in the country. Top 40 in both scoring offense and defense makes for a pretty potent combination. Purdue by comparison is 73rd on offense and 62nd on defense. Closer than you’d think but still not where you’d prefer to be against your opponent.
Much like Purdue though, LSU has had their fair share of opt-outs heading into bowl season. Unlike Purdue though, the most impactful opt-outs for LSU have come on the defensive side of the ball. LSU is down three fourths of their starting defensive line with Jaquelin Roy, B.J. Ojulari, and Ali Gaye all opting out in preparation for the NFL Draft. This is the single biggest thing that gives me optimism for this game. With the top three defensive lineman out it COULD allow a Purdue offensive line that will be without two starters in Hartwig and the transferred Holstege to hold their own. Plus, with Devin Mockobee looking to get to 1,000 yards I’m hopeful there will be some extra motivation.
On offense, LSU terrifies me for one main reason. Their QB. Jayden Daniels is a dual-threat QB which almost always spells trouble for Purdue. Add on that Jalen Graham has apparently vanished into the night as well as Purdue being without Cory Trice and it could get pretty ugly on the defensive side of the ball for Purdue. Daniels finished the season with some incredible stats. He finished the season with 2,774 passing yards, 16 TDs, and just 3 interceptions. That would be impressive enough but remember just a few sentences ago when I said he was a dual-threat? Yeah, he also led the team in rushing with 818 yards. During his career he has amassed an incredible 2,106 rushing yards. He’s going to give Purdue fits and unless Mark Hagen has some sort of magic scheme worked out to stop Daniels it could be a long day for the Purdue defense.
So there you have it. There’s just a bit on this team and that should be enough to put a bit of fear into you. But, if that’s not enough, maybe this will terrify you. This is the room that Tyrone Tracy Jr. will stay in thanks in part to a new NIL deal with Citrus Bowl sponsor Cheez-it. Yikes.
Cheez-It has signed its first NIL deals with 4 college football players in the Cheez-It Bowl and Citrus Bowl:— Front Office Sports (@FOS) December 27, 2022
▪️ FSU WR Mycah Pittman
▪️ OU punter Michael Turk
▪️ LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier
▪️ Purdue WR Tyrone Tracy Jr.
They'll all stay in "cheezy" hotel rooms before each game. pic.twitter.com/dz4zjQgH2U
Immediately following this article being posted this was announced:
#LSU announces Kayshon Boutte is unavailable for the Citrus Bowl. States Boutte is enrolled at LSU for spring. pic.twitter.com/wgxwGpfr44— Brody Miller (@BrodyAMiller) December 28, 2022
Boutte is LSU’s second leading receiver by both receptions and yardage. He finished the year with 48 receptions, 538 yards, and 2 TDs.