Notre Dame vs LSU: Music City Bowl news and notes

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From a branding and/or marketing perspective, Notre Dame versus LSU is as good a bowl match-up as it gets. Forbes recently rated Notre Dame’s football program the second most valuable in the country at $122 million, behind only Texas ($131 million value), with the notation:

“A single home game attracts almost 62,000 visitors from outside the South Bend area; on average, each of those fans injects close to $200 into the local economy.”

Next on the list were Michigan, Alabama and LSU.

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So while the Music City Bowl’s AP poll match-up is #23 vs Not Ranked, if you had a brand awareness poll, it’s #2 vs. #5. That’s like a traditional BCS or New Year’s Day prime time bowl game. This one does not “feel” like a 7-5 vs. a 8-4 team.

Previous Notre Dame postseason appearances have produced record numbers in terms of both attendance and television ratings. LSU is one of those traditional national powers from the SEC where they LIVE college football year round.

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TV/RADIO:  ESPN 2PM CST Dec. 30, 2014

SITE: 69,143-seat LP Field (home of the NFL Tennessee Titans) in Nashville, Tennessee

SPREAD: #23 ranked Tigers are 7.5 point favorites.

Although this game is being held below the Mason-Dixon line, it’s actually much closer to Notre Dame than it is LSU. Nashville is a 6 1/2 hour drive, 438 miles south of South Bend. If you’re leaving Baton Rouge to reach the Music City Bowl, you would have to head north-east on a 587 mile, 8 1/2 hour trek.

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Pair these two premier programs together and you have no shortage of juxatpositions in which to create cheesy cliche story-lines.

-Yankee elite private school vs. Good ol’ boy state school

-“Midwest Swing” vs. “Dixieland Delight”

-Snowbirds/The Snow Belt vs. The Deep South

-Catholics vs. a state that’s literally divided by parishes instead of counties

-Conference Independence/Notre Dame Mystique vs. “SEC Speed”

-Fighting Irish vs #GeauxTigers

-Louisiana Tech beat Illinois in a bowl game, you have this match-up, too bad Northern Illinois couldn’t face Louisiana-Lafayette in their bowl game, or maybe Northwestern versus Lousiana-Monroe.

That’s said, let’s look at the top three overall story lines (in no particular order) in the 2014 Music City Bowl. (These are in no particular order)

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-Both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will play against LSU in the Music City Bowl

A Music City Bowl starter has not been named yet, but Kelly will do in a matter of hours. Kelly said both will play regardless of how the starter performs. Golson makes plays, and piles up the yardage, but he also has an eye-popping 22 turnovers on the season. He’s also thrown at least one interception in the past nine games. In other words he’s high risk/high reward.

Zaire has shown an ability to run the read-option, so look for lots of plays within that system when he’s in there. LSU will obviously try to chew up clock by grinding ND with their power running game. The Fighting Irish can keep their defense fresh by establishing both QBs as dual-threats.

When it’s time to air it out, LSU’s #4 in the nation pass defense is waiting. Half their secondary will eventually end up as very very high NFL Draft picks.

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-Les Miles is known for doing some crazy things on the football field every now and then. He’s also compelling when he discusses such things with the media.

“The Mad Hatter” has also a reputation for making post game press conferences interesting. Ninety-nine percent of all press conferences in all sports are anything but interesting. So this is quite refreshing. He often deviates from the boring “coachspeak” script and likes to be funny and compelling during his media availabilities.

He’s bold and unpredictable when calling plays too. When you figure Miles does that in SEC conference games, imagine what he might do here in a bowl game with nothing at all to lose?

Time to REALLY open up the playbook.

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-Future NFL talent galore, mock draft material all around. 

This year’s Louisiana State team entered the year having lost more players to NFL Draft early entry than any other college football team in history. However, there’s still a ton of potential first rounders all over the roster though.

Notre Dame has the best pro prospect in this game of all though, on their OL in Ronnie Stanley. He’s been projected top 6 by some mocks. Follow this link for more on this item.

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LSU Cornerback Jalen Collins is a potential first-rounder and he talked about playing very close to home in the Music City Bowl:

“For me, being close to there and having family there is exciting for me. A lot of people that haven’t seen me play will have that opportunity to come watch me in this bowl game.”

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports Bank.net ,which is partners with Fox Sports. Read his feature stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on KOZN 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks). His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN 2

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