2014 Music City Bowl Picks: Notre Dame vs. LSU Odds and Expert Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 12/26/2014
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame head to LP Field in Nashville on Dec. 30 to tangle with the SEC's LSU Tigers in this season's Music City Bowl. Game time is slated for 3 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
It was a tale of two seasons for Notre Dame. The one that took the Fighting Irish to the brink of playoff contention with a 7-1 straight up start and the one that knocked them out of the national rankings altogether with four straight losses. They finished the season with a 1-6 record against the spread in their final seven games, and the total went "over" in six of those contests.
LSU stumbled to a 1-2 SU (1-1-1 ATS) finish to go 8-4 on the year with an 8-3-1 record ATS. The Tigers were an even 4-4 SU in conference play with losses to Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas as underdogs. They closed out the season with a 23-17 victory against Texas A&M as three-point road favorites with the total staying "under" the 53-point closing line. It has now stayed under in their last five games.
Music City Bowl Picks: Notre Dame vs. LSU Story Lines
Much of Notre Dame's last-season collapse can be pinned on a defense that forgot how to get off the field. This unit was tagged for an average of 29.3 points a game this season, and during the four-game slide this number jumped to 44.5 points. The Irish gave up 43 points to Northwestern in a stunning overtime defeat as 17-point home favorites, and USC tagged them for 49 points in a season-ending loss as 5.5-point underdogs on the road.
Offensively, Everett Golson threw for 3,355 yards and 29 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his 416 attempts. Overall, the Irish were ranked 16 th in the nation in passing with an average of 293.8 yards a game. William Fuller was Golson's favorite target with 71 receptions for 1,037 yards and 14 scores, and Tarean Folston anchored the running game with 816 yards on 154 carries.
The Tigers' success this season was built around their defense. This unit did give up a combined 75 points in early-season losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, but it held teams to a combined 64 points over the course of LSU's last five games. Overall, thest five games. Overall, itsone way to go in this matchup, my top pick is LSU minus the seven points.ring against this Tigers defense was ranked third in the nation in points allowed in giving up an average of just 16.4 points a game. It was ranked eighth in yards allowed and fourth against the pass.
When it came to moving the ball down field on offense, the Tigers turned to Leonard Fournette and the running game to gain the bulk of the yards. Fournette led the team in rushing with 891 yards on 176 carries, but he got plenty of help from an offense that was ranked 29th in the nation in rushing with an average of 219.5 yards a game. Anthony Jennings took the majority of the snaps at quarterback and threw for 1,460 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Music City Picks: Notre Dame vs. LSU Betting Odds and Trends
The Fighting Irish are 2-6 ATS in their last eight bowl games and 0-5 ATS in their last five games following a SU loss. The total has gone over in five of their last seven games against a team from the SEC.
The Tigers have failed to cover ATS in four of their last five trips to a bowl game, but they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against a team with a SU winning record. The total has stayed under in five of their last six bowl games.
LSU is 4-2 SU and 3-2-1 ATS in six previous games against Notre Dame, with the total staying under in five of those contests. The total has also stayed under in nine of the last 13 Music City Bowls.
2014 Music City Bowl: Notre Dame vs. LSU Expert Betting Predictions
Given the way the Irish played down the stretch, it's hard to see them having all that much success scoring against this Tigers' defense. While the under on the 52.5-point total line could be one way to go in this matchup, my top pick is LSU minus the seven points.
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