Notre Dame v. LSU – Music City Bowl Match Ups

Will Fuller - Notre Dame WR
Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver William Fuller (7) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Syracuse Orange cornerback Corey Winfield (11) in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame had a disappointing end to the regular season but can end the year on a good note with a victory over LSU.  The Irish lost their last four games and five of their last six after starting the season 6-0.  The Notre Dame program has a lot of questions to answer at the Music City Bowl, from who will be the quarterback moving forward to how to improve a subpar defense.  The Irish will need to greatly improve their play in order to beat a quality SEC team like LSU, who possess a massive offensive line and running attack that could gash the Notre Dame defense.

The big news of the day on Monday was the announcement by Brian Kelly that sophomore Malik Zaire will be making his first career start when the Irish take on the Tigers later today, but here are the other key matchups the Irish need to win in order to end the season on a high note.

Irish running backs versus Kwon Alexander:  Versus the Tigers the Irish will need to run the ball with success in order to stay on the field and keep their defense from becoming exhausted and having its lack of depth show.  Attempting to slow the Irish running attack down will be Tigers leading tackler Kwon Alexander.  The junior linebacker 79 tackles this season and has excellent pursuit as well as being a typical physical SEC linebacker.

Will Fuller versus Ronald Martin:  Notre Dame’s most dangerous weapon on offense all season has been receiver Will Fuller and he will need another big game versus an athletic LSU defense.  Martin is a senior safety with good size and fits the mold of past elite Tigers defensive backs.  The Louisiana native was third on the team in tackles with 66 and was tied for the team lead with two interceptions and 10 pass defenses.  With sophomore Malik Zaire making his first career start, Notre Dame will need Fuller to get open downfield to give the green QB some chances for big plays.

Nyles Morgan versus Leonard Fournette:  In a battle of talented freshman Notre Dame’s Nyles Morgan will face off with the elite Leonard Fournette.  Morgan will need to be sharp as LSU’s offensive line will likely routinely blow open big holes and allow Fournette to get past the Irish front untouched.  If Morgan makes improper reads and does not identify the right gaps to fill expect Fournette to rush for well over 100 yards.

Cole Luke versus Travin Dural:  Cornerback Cole Luke has emerged as a bright spot for the Irish in an otherwise rough season.  Luke has battled against numerous excellent receivers this season and will face a fellow emerging star in Travin Dural.  Dural was far and away the most prolific Tigers receiver this year totalling over 550 more receiving yards than any other Tiger.  Dural also has shown an ability to make highlight reel grabs look easy so Luke will need to be in his face all day long.

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  1. I was going by “brandon” before, but now I see we have a “Brandon”. Hence the new name. Live long and prosper or whatever.

  2. I just left LP Field a very proud ND fan. All you BK bashers just sit back and enjoy this bowl win over a good SEC team and program. Its something to build on next year.

  3. Now the real question, who starts next year and will BK stick with the read option and running the ball. I was wrong ND couldn’t stop the run but they won. Maybe that is because ND’S top-rated line showed up and smacked someone in the mouth.

  4. JDH,

    I don’t like any bullying, even cyber-bullying. I care when people take gratuitous cheap shots and then want to play holier than thou.

    I dare say I haven’t started a single pissing contest. But I do not like being made sport of regardless of the venue by internet cowards.

    Now, to address your very worthy point. I agree. But we need to actually make something out of this. How many times have we been hopeful in the past only to be disappointed, JDH?

    To make your observation concrete, I think a good start is building on this win and getting a few more top recruits and land a top 5 type class. That would actually be a tangible result of this win.

    I appreciate you always, JDH. You are a gentleman and true ND man.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

    1. We’ve been disappointed alot. I’m just happy with the win and don’t feel the need to predict what will happen next year.

      I had no illusions as to the D getting gashed up by LSU. I just don’t understand why anyone would go apoplectic about the “D sucking” etc. during this game. What did you or anyone else expect of a D missing 17 guys playing against one of the best offenses of the SEC? Of course we are going to give up big plays. Thankfully, they also made some key stops.

      But, thanks to a smart game plan that actually WORKED (with no turnovers that turned into points thankfully), ND’s offense killed the clock off.

      I have little doubt that we would have been gashed many more times that the 75, 89 and 100 yard plays respectively! I predicted ND would lose by several TDs. Very happy I was wrong.

      All things considered…GO IRISH.

      God Bless and carry on

      1. The D has a lot of problems, injuries and inexperience being two biggies. So I think we agree there. My point is simply that had the O not played a near flawless game and had LSU gotten the ball back let’s say 3 or 4 more times, I don’t think this D would’ve stopped the LSU O. Like I said, and please prove me wrong, LSU basically stopped itself after that first possession. The fake FG at the end of the half cost them 3. They muffed a hand-off when driving into ND territory. Their QB trips over himself to set up a third and long and then misses an open receiver for what would’ve been a first down. Then, thankfully, while shoving the ball down ND’s collective throat, Les Miles decides to go for a long FG rather than a very makeable 4th and 2. I don’t know about you, JDH, but that’s a lot of points LSU left on the field and off the scoreboard. Now throw in a couple of more drives against the depleted D (that by the way wasn’t as depleted as all that for this game) and you get my point.

        Please point out a flaw in my argument or something that I said that in fact didn’t happen in the game, JDH. The D wasn’t very good. Can we make excuses for them? Sure. But in the end whether we call them excuses or explanations really doesn’t matter. The Irish O won this game plain and simple.

      2. Fortunately for the Irish BK called a great game offensively and outcoached Les Miles. The Irish played a near flawless game offensively and it was barely enough to win but i will take it. I thought BK did a great job substituting QBs and both played well. Not great but well. Im not sold on Zaire quite yet like most on this site and i give Golson a ton of credit for moving the team down the field on that last drive. I dont believe Zaire couldve moved the ball down the field on that last drive by throwing it. It is good to see that ND can run the ball when committed to it. TF was solid today. Couple of dropped passes by Fuller and Robinson was surprising. Big improvement for the O-line. Defense still horrible mainly due to inexperience caused by numerous injuries throughout the season. Bottom line ND had to play a perfect game offensively (No Turnovers) and depend on LSU to make several mistakes and it was barely enough to beat a middle of the pack SEC team. Life is good

  5. Really, Brandon, point out one example?! I dare you! Point out one comment that was idiotic.

    Let me reiterate, since you apparently can’t read.

    I pointed out we shouldn’t kickoff to Fourtunette. Was that idiotic? Score: Rob 1-Brandon-0

    I pointed out hat the LSU O wasn’t really stopped by the ND D but really stopped itself. See points above about that. Was that idiotic? Score: Rob 2-Brandon 0

    I pointed out that the ND O won this game by controlling the clock and keeping a weak D off the field. BK admitted that was the game plan. Was that idiotic? Score: Rob 3-Brandon 0

    I pointed out that BVG needs to step up his game next season and no more excuses? Disagree, idiot?! Score: Rob 4- Brandon 0

    I pointed out that Nyles Morgan was too often blocked and didn’t make enough big plays. Was that idiotic? How many big plays did he make today. I remember him getting run over on a third and short, though. Score: Rob 5- Brandon 0

    Sorry, Brandon, if there’s an idiot on here it seems to be you, pal. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution should be to learn how to read and think critically and not sound like some whiny girl!

    1. Wow. Why do you care what people online, whom you’ve never met and will likely never meet, say?

      Enjoy the win. After all the endless talk about “not being SEC-worthy”, we just got that monkey off our back.

      It’s a step in the right direction.

      1. Sorry, Brandon, my bad!

        But I’m still waiting for brandon to give me one example of something I said that was idiotic. I’m fine with disagreement. But not cheap shots.

        As for Burgy, well, I rest my case.

      2. Its all good, I understand your stance. This was a highly frustrating year with poor fundementals, poor coaching, poor strength & conditioning and a just general lack of leadership minus Schmidt.

      3. I think the future is bright if Kelly truly got his head out of his ass leading up to the bowl game. And I am a big Kelly advcocate and fun. But this year has made me question him, lack of game preparation, poor play calling and game management.

  6. What a great win for the boys in blue and gold. It wasn’t pretty, but ND hasn’t won pretty since the Syracuse game. The kids fought all the way until the end. This team could have folded several different times this game but they refused to do that. They gave up 3 demoralizing plays, but put the helmet back on and continued to play like a champion. It was nice to see Brindza kick the game winning field goal and end his career on a high note. Now we need to finish strong in recruiting and get ready for the spring game. GO IRISH!!

  7. Go back and read SteelFanRob’s comments during the game though. Man, you really make yourself look like an idiot.

  8. Pat,

    I don’t like it either. But Burgy thinks he can run roughshod on here and when he wants to punk me, well, then, I will put an end to it. Now, I agree that the personal threats between Burgundy and some others on here is too much. But that’s what happens when someone thinks it’s OK to endlessly insult people. I just hope it doesn’t get Burgundy killed one day.

    You’re also right about this win being something to build on for next season. But we need to actually see that happen and not keep hoping for it. We’ve had these false starts in the past 2o plus years, Patrick.

    Go Irish!

  9. I don’t care about the personal bickering and d!ck measuring contest going on. What I care about is ND beat an SEC team, ended a losing streak and has something to build off for next year.

  10. Now we get the real comic relief! The self-appointed board comedian that makes no one laugh except himself perhaps.

    I stand by my in-game comments, Burgy. Where were you?! Waiting to play the final result like the gutless punk like you are always, I assume. You’re a waste of hot air even by hot air standards, Burgy.

    Like I said, I stand by my comments. LSU stopped itself. Want me to enumerate, Burgy? A fake FG that probably was a TD. A fumbled hand-off. The QB tripped on his own shoelaces for a sack. Les not going for it on 4th and 2 and settling for a long FG attempt. What’s funny about that, Burgy? Seems like pretty much an accurate recounting of facts, as opposed to you lame attempts at humor.

    Now, the big key was the ND O keeping LSU’s O off the field. Had LSU had as many possessions as ND had, we’d be talking about another blowout loss in a bowl game against the SEC. Do you deny that, Burgy? Do you find humor in it?

    One more time, I stand by the accuracy of my in game comments. One more time, Burgundy is a scoreboard watching punk who plays the final score rather than man up and make actual in-game observations, win or lose.

    Go Irish!

  11. If you’re looking for some comic relief just go back and read the comments on here from during the game. Priceless!
    Great way to end the year!

  12. Now starts the collapse! We’ve been here too many times before.

    This D is useless. Absolutely useless. Where are the playmakers on D? Where’s Jaylon Smith today? Has he made a tackle yet?

    Unless LSU stops itself this D won’t make a stop.

    BK better just go for it every time. Nothing to lose. LSU will score from anywhere on the field any ways.

    BVG better show up next season!

    1. I thought the D played pretty well all things considered. And that’s not hindsight talking. I predicted ND would lose big and I’m very happy to be wrong.

      So happy for Zaire, Brindza and all involved.

      I don’t know if it works like this or not, but if there is “momentum” next spring from a win in December, then great.

      1. JDH,

        Make no mistake about it. The ND won this game. Had it not controlled the clock, this game would’ve been ugly.

        Also, like I pointed out to that waste of a fetus Burgundy, LSU basically stopped itself.

        1) the fake FG
        2) the bobbled hand-off
        3) the LSU QB sacking himself
        4) LSU not going for it on 4th down
        5) LSU getting a long FG blocked

        So I don’t believe the D played all that well. But they did do just enough all things considered.

        Great win!

        Go Irish!

      2. Yes I agree that the ND O won the game by keeping the LSU O off the field. But NDs D, the you know the one that has 17 guys missing, also made quite a few key stops.

        And no disrespect intended, but because one doesn’t constantly post during the game; well that doesn’t really have anything to do with “manhood”.

        Some just want to see how things play out.

      3. For the record, cell service was bad where I was sitting, it was cold so I had gloves on, and I was double fisted all night. Now onto Tootsies for postgame!

  13. Make that 45 points to be close!

    Wow, this team is just so sorry. No sense of making a stand and making a statement.

    This D has done this for 2 seasons. Can’t get the ball back for the O.

  14. jeff,

    That’s what happens when one has come to expect mediocrity. Where is Jaylon Smith or Nyles Morgan? I don’t think I’ve heard their names called once.

    ND will need to score at least 35 to have a chance. Hopefully they can put together 3 or 3 time consuming drives, I mean like 7 to 8 minute drives and score TDs and not FGs.

    Otherwise ND will get beat. Only question is by how much at that point.

    Go Irish!

  15. The Irish defense is horrible. Memo to Les Miles. Just run the ball and watch the Irish D fold. Its hard to feel good even with a 7 point lead. You just know its going away very soon

  16. So much for MO.

    This team can’t stand prosperity. No way to win without tacking advantage of the situation. This team can never seem to own the moment. Damn it! Why is that?!

    Why KO to this guy? Squib kick. Pooch kick. Heck, kick it out of bounds!

    I’m at the point that I expect something bad to happen. That’s what 20 plus years of futility gets you!

    Damn it!

  17. If Zaire makes the correct read that’s a first down. Folston had a hole you could have drove a semi through. Malik had predetermined that he would keep it on that play.

  18. Yes, way to respond! Both QBs look strong to start the game

    Now the D has to get the ball back for the O.

    This is where the D has failed of late. Build on the old MO.


  19. kelly gets too emotional, calls a hurry up play on fouth down, it failed today and it failed against fsu and cost us the game
    cant he stay cool

  20. Now starts the beat down?

    Wasted opportunity on the second drive. Poor decision by MZ after a flawless first drive.

    BVG can’t seem to be able to defend the up-tempo.

    Don’t feel good about this after that drive. Hopefully I’m wrong.

    Go Irish!

  21. In light of all BK’s rants about playing anyone anytime, its all dribble until it is backed up on the field. I dont see that happening anytime soon unfortunately…

    I also do not think the Irish can stop the run today and Les Miles like him or not is simply a better coach.

    Thank God we dont play Michigan anytime soon – I hate MI with a passion but they are showing they are serious about their football program by opening their wallet for one hell of a good coach.

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