It wouldn’t be an LSU football game in 2014 without the Tigers quarterbacks mentioned in our preview content, right? It’s been a forgettable year at the position. Starter Anthony Jennings has struggled with accuracy. He finished the regular season with a completion percentage of 48.8, which would be the worst for an LSU QB since Marcus Randall completed 48.1 percent in 2002. He averages just 121 passing yards per game. That’s one of the lowest of any starting QB in the nation. Freshman Brandon Harris whiffed on his first career start at Auburn on Oct. 4 and hasn’t seen significant playing time since. This might be the best chance for Harris to play since that game. The two QBs were expected to compete during bowl practice, even though Jennings said Saturday he is taking all the snaps with the first team.
Kendell Beckwith’s emergence midway through the season has made a world of difference on this unit. Beckwith (above) is poised for an all-conference type season next year, and that run begins in the bowl game against a Notre Dame team that likes to spread out defenders and pick them apart with a versatile passing attack. Beckwith and LSU’s group of linebackers — Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis — have shown the ability to stop the run, but they’ve been exploited in the passing game (see Arkansas and Auburn). Alexander could be playing his last game as a Tiger. He’s leaning toward bypassing his senior year for the NFL draft.
Notre Dame quarterbacks
You think LSU’s quarterback situation is bad? Notre Dame’s isn’t worse, but it’s not great. While the Irish have a much more potent passing attack — 280 yards per game — they’ve struggled with turnovers. Sophomore backup Malik Zaire (above), a highly touted dual-threat QB out of Ohio, will start against LSU and won the job after coach Brian Kelly opened up the competition during bowl practice. Zaire replaced Everett Golson in Notre Dame’s regular-season finale, a 49-14 loss at Southern Cal. Golson has thrown at least one interception in nine straight games.
Notre Dame defensive line
The Irish defensive line has been bitten by the injury bug recently. Defensive tackle Sheldon Day (above) and nose guard Jarron Jones have both missed time with injuries, and Jones is likely to miss the Music City Bowl as well. The group will meet its biggest challenge against a veteran and big LSU offensive line. Notre Dame has allowed at least 188 yards rushing in six of its past seven games, and the Tigers run the ball better than most. LSU averages 219 yards rushing per game and has posted at least 150 yards rushing in eight of 12 games. Notre Dame is hoping to have Day back for the Music City Bowl. The Irish line will need all the help it can get.