Notre Dame Takes Down LSU In Music City Bowl, 31-28
The LSU Tigers had a chance to enter 2015 with a victory, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had different plans on Tuesday in Nashville at the Music City Bowl.
With an impressive game-winning drive, Irish kicker Kyle Brindza nailed a 32 yard field goal to complete the Notre Dame victory, 31-28.
Tiger freshmen running back Leonard Fournette had several highlight reel plays on Tuesday, but it was Irish sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire who paced the Notre Dame offense, controlled the clock, and overcame Fournette's big day.
Zaire, making a surprise start for the Irish over veteran Everett Golson, protected the football, throwing 12-15 for 96 yards and a touchdown, while running for another 96 and a score. Golson took snaps at quarterback as well, throwing for 90 yards of his own.
The Irish rushing attack gutted the Tiger defense, running for 263 yards. Outside of a 50 yard touchdown run by C.J. Prosise, the Irish offense didn't strike LSU with many big plays, but did their damage with efficient third down offense (11-17), long drives, and as a result, a major win in the time of possession battle (Notre Dame 37:00, LSU 23:00).
Many pundits predicted LSU's defense to overwhelm Notre Dame's offense, but the end result was far from it. The Irish offensive line won at the point of attack. There's a chance it was Tiger defensive coordinator John Chavis' last game with the team. With reports that Texas A&M will likely hire Chavis to fill the same position in College Station, Miles' comments in postgame suggest it's imminent.
"John Chavis was very productive for us," said Miles when asked about rumors of Chavis departing for Texas A&M. "That's kind of all I'm going to say."
Chavis met with reporters as well, but refused to take questions about his future, electing to only discuss the game.
Tuesday's game was chock-full of memorable plays, including one late in the first half. With less than 10 seconds left in the second quarter and Notre Dame leading 21-14, LSU lined up to try a 19 yard field goal attempt. Reserve quarterback Brad Kraghtorpe, serving as the holder, attempted to run in for a touchdown on the fake, but was called just short of the goal line.
The replay appeared to show Kragthorpe's knee off the ground, with the nose of the football breaking the goal line, although it was extremely close. Officials didn't see enough evidence to overturn the call, and the Tigers left points on the field.
"They tell me the ball crossed the goal line in the first half," said Miles. "We didn't get that call."
Fournette, on the other hand, crossed the goal line three times with some highlight plays. His first touchdown came on an 8 yard run late in the first quarter. His second was a 100 yard kickoff return in the second, outrunning several Irish special teamers. He scored one more time, an 89 yard dash where he showed off his speed again.
"Leonard Fournette distinguished himself," said Miles.
Offensively, as has been the case all season, the Tigers passing game struggled to find a rhythm.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings did find John Diarse for a 75 yard score on the first offensive play of the second half, but the throw was not accurate. Diarse came back to make the catch while Irish defenders were no where near him, then his legs did the rest.
It was the first loss of the season for LSU to a school outside of their division (SEC West). With the defeat, the Tigers end a disappointing 2014 campaign 8-5. With the victory, Notre Dame ends the year with the same record.