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What to know about Tampa's ReliaQuest and Gasparilla bowl matchups

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels celebrates
Gerald Herbert
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) celebrates with his parents on senior day, for his final home game, before an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

Heisman Trophy candidate Jayden Daniels will lead LSU against Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on New Year's Day, while UCF will take on Georgia Tech in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 22.

The ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa on New Year's Day is slated to feature a quarterback who has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and two teams that are making a rare appearance at Raymond James Stadium.

Meanwhile, the University of Central Florida will be making the short trip from Orlando to to Tampa to face Georgia Tech in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 22.

The ReliaQuest Bowl will match the No. 13-ranked LSU Tigers (9-3) of the Southeastern Conference against the unranked Wisconsin Badgers (7-5) of the Big Ten.

The Tigers are looking to reach 10 wins in their second season under Coach Brian Kelly. The Badgers earned their 22nd consecutive bowl berth after winning seven games in their first full season under Coach Luke Fickell.

The Tigers have the nation's top scoring offense at 46.4 points per game. They also lead in total offense at 547.8 yards.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is in the Heisman conversation after throwing for 3,812 yards with 40 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Daniels has also run for 1,134 yards and 10 more scores.

 “A SEC-Big Ten matchup always creates a lot of excitement, but facing a Wisconsin team led by a great coach in Luke Fickell makes this bowl game even more attractive,” Kelly said in the news release. “Wisconsin has a great tradition with a tremendous fan base. I know both teams are excited to be in Tampa during New Year’s to play in the ReliaQuest Bowl."

Wisconsin was led this season by running back Braelon Allen, who ran for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He declared for the NFL draft last week, but did not indicate whether he would skip the bowl.

“We’re extremely excited to be playing in the ReliaQuest Bowl," Fickell said in the release. “It’s a great opportunity for our young men who have battled throughout this season and to get closure for what they have done, not just for our seniors but for our entire program. We’re really excited about coming to Tampa for a great bowl game.”

This is the Tigers' 55th bowl appearance and second under Kelly. LSU has won four of its last five bowl games. It's Wisconsin's 35th bowl game and 22nd straight bowl bid.

“We are thrilled to extend invitations to Louisiana State University and the University of Wisconsin to play in this year’s ReliaQuest Bowl,” Bowl Chair Chris Roederer said Sunday in a news release. “These are two high quality teams that we expect will produce an exceptional matchup that fans are really going to enjoy.

"We look forward to hosting the teams and their fans and ensure they will have an amazing experience at the game and enjoying the dynamic Tampa Bay area.”

The game begins at noon and will be televised on ESPN2. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, Priority membership seats are available directly through the ReliaQuest Bowl office at (813) 874-BOWL

Gasparilla Bowl

The UCF Knights (6-6) of the Big 12 Conference will be making their sixth appearance in this bowl game — even though it's been under different titles over the years — when they face Georgia Tech (6-6) of the Atlantic Coast Conference at Raymond James Stadium.

The Knights became bowl-eligible with a victory over Houston, while Georgia Tech won four of its last six ACC games.

The Knights are led by running back RJ Harvey, who ranked third in the Big 12 with 1,296 yards rushing while scoring 16 touchdowns. Senior defensive back Jaylon King ranks 16th nationally with four interceptions along with 68 tackles and eight pass breakups.

Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King passed for 2,755 yards and 26 touchdowns, and rushed for 648 yards and another nine scores.

The game will be televised on ESPN starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Gasparilla Bowl website.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.