Following an intense college football weekend that saw the No. 1 and 3 teams in the CFP rankings fall — while the No. 2 and 4 squads survived scares of their own — the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee met Monday to share their road stories from Week 11 and discuss what the results could mean for the Citrus and Camping World Bowls.
One of those upsets came in Miami Gardens, where No. 7 Miami looked dominant in a 41-8 victory over No. 3 Notre Dame. Simon Azarnia and Reg Shrigley were on hand for the rout and said they got positive feedback from Hurricanes representatives, who were not only pleased with the team’s experience at last year’s Camping World Bowl, but were also appreciative of the accommodations Florida Citrus Sports made for the program in the wake of Hurricane Irma, when the ‘Canes spent several days practicing in Orlando.
Azarnia and Shrigley also wrote in their report that talk of the “Camping World bump” came up in conversation with Miami officials, who will learn their team’s latest CFP placement Tuesday night. Notre Dame (2011-12), Florida State (2013-14) and Clemson (2015-16 and 2016-17) all went on to play for national championships within two years of playing in the Camping World Bowl, and for the moment, the unbeaten Hurricanes look like they have the potential to do the same.
Elsewhere this weekend, Tim Loftin and Todd LeDoux were in Ames, Iowa, for a 49-42 thriller between Iowa State and Oklahoma State — two programs firmly in the mix for a potential Camping World Bowl bid going into the game. And although the host Cyclones came up on the losing end against the Cowboys, LeDoux called his experience at Iowa State one of his favorites in all his years as a Florida Citrus Sports representative.
“I ran into one guy and started chatting him up, and he seemed like the mayor of Iowa State,” LeDoux recalled. “He grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘Here, I want to introduce you to some people,’ and once word started getting out that we were there, I had people chasing me down.
“Iowa State fans were coming to me to talk about (the game), and that they were glad I was there,” LeDoux continued. “Everyone said they were going to follow me out of the stadium and follow me back down to Orlando. I even had one woman who said, ‘Look, I save money every year to go to our bowl game, and the last time we were at a bowl game was 2012. So I’ve got a lot of money to spend in Orlando.’”
Loftin confirmed that the energy around the Iowa State program, which boasts wins over Oklahoma and TCU this season, was impressive.
“They really are bowl-hungry,” Loftin said. “They told me, ‘Where else would you want to go?’ If you live in Iowa in December, Orlando looks pretty attractive.”
One common thread from Team Selection Committee members who visited the Midwest this week was the weather, with reps talking of freezing temperatures in locales like Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. However, Cam Middleton and Greg Renton reported pleasant temperatures and warm receptions at LSU and Mississippi State, respectively.
“I asked, if they were invited again, would they show up, and it was a resounding yes,” Middleton said of the crowd in Baton Rouge, where LSU, a 2016-17 Citrus Bowl participant, topped Arkansas 33-10. “A lot of people said that it doesn’t matter where the bowl is, they will travel.”
“They are realistic about their team and excited about the possibility of winning their next two games to get to our bowl game,” Renton added of the Bulldogs, who lost a 31-24 nail-biter to No. 2 Alabama. “I think Mississippi State would be right in our wheelhouse should they win out, and I think they’d be a good team, as I believe they would travel well.”