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Projecting Notre Dame's Bowl Opponent: Is LSU an Acceptable Option for Missing Out on NY6 Bowl?

Written By| Phil Kowalis|Writer|Twitter: @PhilKowalisIT

Photo by IndyStar


With two-thirds of the 2023 football season now behind us and Notre Dame having a 6-2 record heading into the final four games of the season, it is time to start looking at possible post season bowl opponents for the Irish. While Notre Dame's College Football Playoff hopes disappeared after a disappointing 33-20 loss to Louisville, the Irish still have a reasonable shot at reaching a NY6 bowl. The Irish have a very favorable schedule over the remainder of the season with the most challenging game being a road matchup with the Clemson Tigers.

Should the Irish win out and finish the season with a 10-2 record, I feel a NY6 bowl game will be in Notre Dame's future. While I see a very strong possibility of Notre Dame winning out and landing a NY6 bowl birth, the national prognosticators due not share the same opinion of the Irish's post season fate, as neither ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura nor CBS's Jerry Palm have the Irish reaching a NY6 bowl.

Let's take a look at who these experts have the Irish matching up with in the bowl season.




Photo by CBS Sports


Notre Dame vs. LSU Tigers: ReliaQuest Bowl

ESPN's Schlabach has the Irish playing in what most Notre Dame fans would consider to be a dream bowl matchup, as most Irish fans want nothing more than to get revenge on former head coach Brian Kelly for jilting the Irish as he left to pursue greener pastures in the SEC.

This would be a very compelling matchup pitting the Tiger's high octane offense against the strength of the Irish defense. The Tiger's offense is led by duel-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels has passed for 2,573 yards and has tossed 25 touchdowns while being intercepted just three times. Daniels is also the Tiger's second leading rusher, gaining 521 yards on 91 carries and scoring five rushing touchdowns. The Tiger's also boast a pair of top-notch receivers in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. Nabers has caught 56 passes good for 981 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, while Thomas Jr. has added 732 yards on 42 catches and scored 11 touchdowns.

The matchup between Nabers and Thomas Jr., and Notre Dame cornerbacks Benjamin Morrison and Cam Hart would be must see television. The matchup with the Tigers would also reunite the Irish with former running back Logan Diggs, who leads LSU with 611 yards rushing on the season and has scored six rushing touchdowns.



Notre Dame vs. Florida Gators: Gator Bowl

While Schlabach has the Irish matching up against an opponent from the SEC West, Bonagura has Notre Dame facing an SEC East opponent in the Florida Gators. The Gators, 5-2 on the season, would provide Notre Dame with another high-profile SEC opponent for their post season matchup. The Florida offense is led by quarterback Graham Mertz who has passed for 1,897 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mertz's favorite target this season has been Ricky Pearsall who leads the Gators in receptions with 44 and in receiving yards with 619.

Montrell Johnson Jr. is Florida's leading rusher with 438 yards on the season.

Photo by Athlonsports


Notre Dame vs. Kansas Jayhawks: Pop-Tarts Bowl

CBS's Jerry Palm has given the Irish the least attractive bowl matchup of the three, as he has the Irish taking on the Kansas Jayhawks out of the Big 12. The Jayhawks started the season 4-0, but have dropped two of the past three games and have been without starting quarterback Jalon Daniels for the past three contests. Kansas has a very capable backup quarterback in Jason Bean, who has thrown for 913 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Kansas features a run first offense lead by Devin Neal, who has rushed for 659 yards and six touchdowns on the season. Daniel Hishaw Jr. has added 437 rushing yards and is tied for the team lead with six rushing touchdowns.



Summary:

While these bowl projections are fun to look at and give Notre Dame fans something to talk about during a bye week, there is still plenty of football to be played in the 2023 season, and these early projections are sure to change week to week as the season progresses, but I would have to say that if Notre Dame does not advance to a NY6 bowl game, a matchup with Brian Kelly and the LSU Tigers would give Irish fans a nice consolation prize.


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