NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Cody Riggs is a popular guy in the Notre Dame locker room.
Returning from missing the final two games because of a stress reaction in his foot helps, but so does prior experience against LSU, Tuesday’s Music City Bowl opponent for the Irish. Riggs, a Florida graduate who went against the Tigers three times while a Gator, has been getting plenty of attention as the Irish prepare for the bowl game.
The cornerback, who graduated from Florida in May, is a graduate student at Notre Dame. He started for the Gators against LSU in 2011 and 2013, and played against the Tigers as a reserve in 2010.
“I always tell the guys this is a totally different team,” Riggs said of the 2014 LSU squad. “Last year, they had a passing game that was second to none; they were really good. This year, they don’t have that, and it’s like a complete 180 in their offense. I can’t really tell the guys much about it, but I can explain to them what type of physicality we’re going to have to deal with.
“When you’re in the SEC week in and week out, it’s almost always a rivalry game. It’s kind of like emotions are high every week. I always tell people that Notre Dame plays some really good football teams and the competition isn’t any different, it’s just that the emotions are so much higher when you’re playing a rival every week, and I think that’s the difference. It’s almost like people become emotionally exhausted when you play in that type of environment.”
The return of Riggs, the nephew of former Notre Dame receiver Bobby Brown, and defensive tackle Sheldon Day, who also missed the final two games because of a sprained MCL, has coach Brian Kelly optimistic in the Irish’s chances of slowing the LSU rushing attack.
“Well, it’s going to be improved with Sheldon Day in there, and Cody Riggs helps us a lot too,” Kelly said. “His ability to play out at the corner position, can play a lot more aggressive, we can be on body there. Both of those guys helps us without question in terms of the run game.”
LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and host of the Music City Bowl, will be the fourth active NFL stadium Notre Dame has played a game at in 2014. The Irish are 3-0 in NFL stadiums this year. They defeated Purdue at the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Syracuse at the New York Giants/Jets’ MetLife Stadium, and Navy at the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field.
Notre Dame has played in at least one active NFL stadium each of the past seven seasons.
Notre Dame and LSU were tabbed as two of the most valuable college football programs by Forbes last week.
Forbes conducts an annual survey of all Football Bowl Subdivision institutions to determine which programs are the most valuable. Forbes uses four areas that are impacted by the football program to determine how to rank them: their athletic department, their universities, their conferences and their local economies.
Texas led the nation with a worth of $131 million. It was followed by Notre Dame ($122 million), Michigan ($117 million), Alabama ($107 million), and LSU ($103 million).
The Southeastern Conference has five of the top 10 teams in the Forbes ranking, which includes Auburn at No. 6 ($97 million), Tennessee at No.7 ($94 million), and Georgia at No. 10 ($83 million).