Monday, December 29, 2014

Music City Bowl is Hard to Predict Because Notre Dame and LSU Are Hard to Predict

Predicting a bowl game is never easy. The regular season has been over for a month and it is hard to see how a team will respond after the layoff. It is especially true when you have two teams who play in a game that was much lower than expectations at the beginning of the season. So how Notre Dame and LSU come out in this game will be interesting to see. For Notre Dame, it will be especially interesting to see who all is even healthy on the defensive side of the side after a season that saw 14 injuries.

The media is saying that both teams had roller coaster seasons. For Notre Dame the only ride I can think of that would fit would be the Demon Drop at Cedar Point. It is one where a cart goes all the way up to the top and then just like that it is a free fall. That is clearly what the Irish season was. They were sitting at 7-1 with their only loss to Florida State in a very controversial fashion. Then came the disaster in the desert, an embarrassment to Northwestern, and ugly games to Louisville and USC.

For LSU, it was more of a traditional roller coaster as they began the year with a dramatic win against Wisconsin. Then they blew out two cupcakes because well the SEC schedules cupcakes. Then they had a set back against Mississippi State before blowing out another cupcake. Next they got blown out by Auburn and then barely beat an underwhelming Florida team. The Tigers appeared to have righted the ship after impressive wins over Kentucky and Ole Miss. They took Alabama to overtime. But then like Notre Dame, they folded down the stretch by losing to Arkansas and barely beating Texas A & M.

The thing that is similar is that both teams had a loss to a playoff team that could have gone the other way. That means that there is ability on both teams. We all know what Everett Golson can do when he is on with all the receiving weapons he has. Golson will have to split time in the game with Malik Zaire. But who is playing quarterback is inconsequential if the defense doesn't do better than how they ended. Again, how healthy they are will be huge. The Tigers have a tough runner in Freshman Leonard Fournette who gained 891 yards with 8 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings had just 10 touchdown passes with 7 interceptions. Their best receiver is sophomore Travin Dural who only had 37 catches for 758 yards and just 7 touchdowns. Compare that to Will Fuller who had 71 catches for 1037 yards and 14 touchdowns. It is clear that stopping the run will be key.

This bowl is between two big name programs who underachieved. It will be interesting to see how each team comes out.

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