Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire will make his first career start against the LSU Tigers in the American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee later today.
However, head coach Brian Kelly announced that quarterback Everett Golson will also see the field against the Tigers as well, leaving questions if Zaire will truly get his chance.
The decision to start Zaire over Golson basically came down to the alarming rate of turnovers Golson committed this season. Through twelve games, Golson turned the ball over a whopping 22 times. Zaire replaced Golson in Notre Dame’s 49-14 loss to USC and completed 9 of 2o passes for 170 yards. The sophomore also ran for 18 yards and a touchdown against the Trojans.
Although Golson struggled at times this season, he has plenty of experience in big games. He led the Fighting Irish to the 2012 BCS championship and a 6-0 start this season, but the Irish stumbled to a 7-5 record and lost five out of their final six games. In 2014, Golson threw for 3,355 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
It will be very tough for Zaire to lead Notre Dame against one of the best defenses in the country. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 3 in points allowed (16.4) and No. 8 in total defense, allowing 308.5 yards per game.
Don’t be surprised if Zaire struggles early, leaving Kelly with a tough decision to insert Golson or to leave the sophomore in the game to figure it out.
The last time these two storied programs met was in the 2007 Sugar Bowl where LSU dominated the Fighting Irish, 41-14. Former LSU quarterback JeMarcus Russell threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
The all-time series is currently tied at 5-5.
Kickoff will commence at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.
*Section Photo credit to Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Matt Cashore, USA Today Sports.