When the LSU Tigers face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Music City Bowl, the Irish will display a new offensive lineup for the first time all season. On Monday, Notre Dame named QB Malik Zaire as starter for the pivotal bowl game. It’s likely that Everett Golson will play meaningful snaps against LSU as well.
Zaire will be making his first ever collegiate start, and he’s only thrown 20 passes in his entire career. Although Zaire doesn’t have much in game experience, Brian Kelly feels extremely comfortable going with the freshman quarterback. Both players competed in an intense quarterback battle throughout fall camp, with Golson coming out on top. Due to Golson’s struggles down the stretch, Zaire has the chance to cement his claim to the starting quarterback position for 2015.
It won’t be easy for Malik Zaire to impress his coaches early on, but this decision was made on who would give Notre Dame the best chance to win. Therefore, Zaire should receive plenty of opportunities to make plays throughout the game. Notre Dame is facing the fourth rated scoring defense in college football. LSU only gives up 16.4 points per game.
However, with Golson at the helm, Notre Dame was held under 20 points only twice. For the most part, the Fighting Irish were ringing points up on opponents. Still, it’s the current four game losing streak that has Notre Dame making the tough decision to ride with Malik Zaire.
On the flip side, LSU struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball in big games. The Tigers’ quarterbacks have combined to throw 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. LSU also had their quarterback battles entering the season, with Anthony Jennings becoming the mainstay behind center.
Leonard Fournette came into the season with astronomical aspirations, but he didn’t live up to the hype right away. Still, Fournette came on strong in the final half of the season. He finished the regular season with 891 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. However, Fournette was far from the only stud in the stable for the LSU running game. The Tigers had five players rush for over 250 yards this season, and every running back averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry.
Despite both teams residing in the top 10 early in the season, they each had heartbreaking setbacks. LSU finished the season with an (8-4) record, while Notre Dame’s (7-5) record culminated in an embarrassing defeat to USC.
According to Sportsline.com, LSU is a 7.5 point favorite. The Music City Bowl starts at 3 p.m. on ESPN.