'Attractive matchup' meant most to LSU

From Les Miles to LSU's players to Joe Alleva, it was clear Sunday that the opponent was the most important part of the bowl draw to the Tigers. To that end, Notre Dame suits LSU just fine.

Heading into Sunday afternoon it was widely anticipated No. 22 LSU (8-4) would end up in either the Texas Bowl or the Music City Bowl.

And while the Southeastern Conference has more autonomy to place member teams not claimed by the College Football Playoff or the "Pool of Six" bowls, the Tigers were making a push behind the scenes to get what they wanted.

But the jockeying wasn't between Houston and Nashville.

What LSU brass wanted to ensure was a quality opponent, a heavyweight in the college football ranks that would theoretically serve as an enticing draw for traveling fans.

That would've been guaranteed with Texas an early addition to the game in NRG Stadium, but not quite in the home of the Tennessee Titans.

And so, despite reports that Louisville was locked in to Nashville, the Tigers were successfully able to lobby the league to up the ante, in their eyes, landing Notre Dame as its opponent Dec. 30 in the Music City Bowl.

The Fighting Irish finished the regular season 7-5, losing its last four and five of its last six, but according to LSU players, coach Les Miles and Joe Alleva, director of athletics, the Golden Domers are exactly the type of high-level, familiar opponent the Tigers were seeking.

"We are delighted to be heading to Nashville for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl,” Joe Alleva said. “This is a fantastic bowl destination against the historic Notre Dame football program. We are excited about the opportunity to bring our incredible Tiger fans and football program to the great city of Nashville for what should be one of the most attractive matchups of the bowl season.”

Miles expressed a very similar sentiment. "We are very excited to bring our football program and the great LSU fan base to Nashville to play Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Notre Dame is a traditional football power and we are looking forward to renewing what has been a tremendous rivalry between the two programs through the years."

When asked how he views the bowl pairing, junior left guard Vadal Alexander touched on the name-brand recognition of Notre Dame, an opponent he feels will bring the best effort from LSU.

"Really excited. Two great programs, historical programs," Alexander told TSD. "It’s a big-name matchup, so you know it’s two good football powers. I’m really excited that we get to play a team that’s really good and really well-known.

"You grow up looking at Notre Dame and watching them play since you were little. It’s always a program that’s in the national spotlight, so it’s easy to get up for it. No matter who the opponent would’ve been, obviously we’d have gotten up for it. Definitely, Notre Dame is someone we can get excited for to play them."

It may not be LSU or Notre Dame in their vintage forms, but the impression given is that the allure of adding the Irish is a validating end to a season that's been up and down for the Tigers.

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