Kyle Brindza hit a 32-yard field goal with four seconds left to give the Notre Dame Fighting Irish a 31-28 win over No. 23 LSU in the Music City Bowl. Malik Zaire played very well in the first of what will probably be many career starts, although Everett Golson did get a few snaps.
The two teams started trading punches almost immediately. Notre Dame scored on its opening drive, capped off when Zaire hit William Fuller down the middle for a touchdown. LSU would answer with a Leonard Fournette touchdown run, and the back and forth would continue all day, as neither team was able to extend its lead to more than seven points.
The running backs were the real stars of the day, led by Fournette. He was the obvious star with two very long touchdowns, but Notre Dame had three different players rush for at least 73 yards in Zaire, C.J. Prosise, and Tarean Folston. The two teams combined for 548 rushing yards and 885 yards of total offense.
With the win, Notre Dame finishes the season 8-5. LSU drops to 8-5 with the loss.
Three things we learned
1. Leonard Fournette is incredible. The true freshman received a lot of hype entering the 2014 season, and at first things didn't go so well for him. However, those struggles appear to be behind him, as he absolutely demolished Notre Dame on Tuesday, rushing for 143 yards on only 11 carries. Fournette also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and one of his two rushing touchdowns came after he was shot out of a cannon and then ran 89 yards for the score. Unfortunately he didn't get enough help from his teammates to pick up the win.
2. Malik Zaire: Also special. Fournette's highlight-heavy performance will generally get first billing, but Zaire was outstanding for the Irish in his first career start. He was accurate throwing the ball (12 of 15 for 96 yards and a touchdown) and also rushed for 96 yards to lead the team. After seeing Everett Golson's season deteriorate so rapidly in the second half of the season, Irish fans should be excited about what Zaire can do going forward.
3. Entertaining bowl games can be quick too! When you think of back and forth, entertaining bowl games, chances are you don't think of a game that can wrap up quickly. Both Notre Dame and LSU were able to move the ball quite a bit, but they did so much of that moving on the ground, leading us to a bowl game that ended in a tidy three hours, 10 minutes. Our schedules salute you, men.