Notre Dame (8-5) celebrated a 31-28 victory over LSU (8-5) after kicker Kyle Brindza sent a game-winning, 32-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired Tuesday in the Franklin American Mortage Music City Bowl. Notre Dame had to battle to score the victory.
The second half got off to a fast start for the LSU Tigers. John Diarse caught a pass over the middle of the field after Notre Dame’s secondary got sucked in for what they thought would be a run by quarterback Anthony Jennings. Diarse ran down field for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, which also tied the game at 21-21 after the Tigers were the victim of a controversial ending to the first half prevented LSU from scoring a touchdown.
Later in the third quarter, LSU’s star running back Leonard Fournette once again broke off a big play. This time the big play came courtesy of an 89-yard run, on the first play from scrimmage after Notre Dame punted away to the Tigers and downed the football at the 11-yard line. It took just 12 seconds for the long touchdown run. every time Fournette touched the football, something explosive was probable to happen. the freshman running back carried the football 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and he added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half.
This time, LSU took its first lead of the game with the score, but Notre Dame responded four plays later. C.J. Prosise broke off a 50-yard touchdown run and reached for the end zone down the right sideline to put the Irish on the board, tying the game at 28-28 with a little more than four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Heading into the 2015 season, LSU’s Fournette will very likely be one of the preseason Heisman Trophy hopefuls. He struck the Heisman pose early in the 2014 season, but next season he will be a legitimate Heisman contender, and he will carry the load for the Tigers after setting the freshman rushing record at the school.
Notre Dame’s offense should also be ready to grow with Malik Zaire under center. The sophomore will be a junior and will be the likely starting quarterback for the Irish. As long as he protects the football and avoids making poor decisions, as he showed in the Music City Bowl, then the Irish should have a decent offense ready to go. But will Brian Kelly be around?
The coaching carousel may have come to a stop at the college level, but with the NFL carousel just getting started there will likely be a rumor or two connecting Kelly to a possible NFL gig. As long as Kelly sticks in South Bend, a very realistic scenario, then the Irish will prepare for a challenging schedule that includes home games against Texas, USC, Georgia Tech and road games at Stanford and a neutral site game against Boston College.
This was the second straight bowl victory for Notre Dame, and the first loss suffered by the SEC in bowl play this year. LSU has now lost three of its last four bowl games. Notre Dame head coach Kelly is now 5-3 in bowl games, and 3-2 in bowl games at Notre Dame.