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SUGAR BOWL
Sugar Bowl History
Notre Dame (10-2)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
LSU (10-2)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Location: New Orleans, LA
Date: Wednesday, January 3
Time: 8:00 pm EST
TV: Fox

Game Preview

by Mike Mitchell

Notre Dame's bowl woes have been well-documented. The Irish have lost their last eight postseason games, haven't won a bowl game since 1993, and have come no closer than 14 points in their last four bowl outings.

Nothing indicates that will change this year as the Irish were routed in the two games they played against top opposition - Michigan and USC - by at least 20 points.

Conversely, LSU has emerged victorious in eight of its last eleven bowl games, including a 40-3 thumping of Miami in last year's Peach Bowl. The Tigers' only losses in 2006 at Auburn 7-3, and at Florida 23-10. They defeated four bowl teams from the SEC - Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas - but played a weak non-conference schedule that provides no comparison of how LSU measures up on a national level.

Both teams feature experienced quarterbacks with Notre Dame's Brady Quinn expected to be a high first-round pick in the spring. Quinn ranks 11th in the nation in passing yards with 3,278. He completed over 63% of his passes and tossed 35 touchdowns to rank 3rd nationally. He only had five passes picked off all season and three of those came in the blowout loss to Michigan. He threw just one interception in his last eight games.

Quinn had the fifth-highest number of pass attempts of any quarterback in the country. The four-year starter was sacked 30 times, ten more than in 2005.

Darius Walker was the leading ground-gainer and the only serious rushing threat. Walker ran for 1,139 yards and 7 TD's. James Aldridge was a distant second on the team with 135 yards.

Walker was also used considerably as a receiver out of the backfield and caught 54 passes for 361 yards to rank fourth on the team behind the talented trio of Jeff Samardzija (70 catches, 958 yards, 11 TD's), Rhema McKnight (64 catches, 885 yards, 15 TD's) and tight end John Carlson (46 catches, 621 yards, 4 TD's).

LSU's JaMarcus Russell averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt to Quinn's 7.6. He threw 124 fewer passes with only 63 fewer completions. His 68.5 percent completion percentage ranked 5th nationally and his passer rating of 168.10 placed him in 3rd. Russell had 26 TD's for 1 TD in every 8.11 pass attempts. He was picked off only 7 times and sacked a mere 14 times all season.

Four different receivers caught at least 34 passes and had 3 touchdowns or more. Dwayne Bowe led the group with 912 yards and 11 TD's on 60 catches. Craig Davis added 786 yards and Early Doucet chipped in 657.

Running back Jacob Hester added 257 receiving yards to his 415 rushing total and was the only back to play in every game, but "running back by committee" approach totaled 1,910 yards to rank 39th in the nation, 40 spots above Notre Dame.

Defensively, LSU ranked 4th in points allowed, 2nd in yards allowed, 3rd in pass defense and 14th in rushing defense.

The most points LSU gave up in a game was 26 to Arkansas in the season finale. The Tigers held six opponents to single digits. Florida (23) and Tennessee (24) were the only other teams to reach the 20's on them.

Notre Dame surrendered an average of 22.4 points per game and all of its rankings in the major defensive categories were well down the list.