Notre Dame Loses 9th Straight Bowl
by Mike Mitchell
LSU's 41-14 win in the Sugar Bowl was Notre Dame's ninth straight bowl loss and the Tigers' 8th win in their last 10 bowl games. JaMarcus Russell threw for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns, and ran for another score as LSU outgained the Irish 333 yards to 30 in the final two quarters after leading 21-14 at halftime.
Notre Dame's Brady Quinn was blitzed and harassed all night by one of the nation's top defenses. During the regular season, LSU ranked 4th in points allowed, 2nd in yards allowed, 3rd in pass defense and 14th in rushing defense.
Quinn completed less than 43 percent of his passes (15-of-35) for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions after being picked-off just once in his last eight games.
After digging a 14-0 hole, it looked like the Irish had enough fight in them to pull an upset of the favored Tigers as they bounced back to tie the game at 14-apiece with 2:25 left in the half. However, LSU regained the momentum by driving right back down the field to go into the locker room with a 21-14 lead on Russell's 5-yard run.
The Tigers struck first after Notre Dame failed on a fake punt attempt from its own 34-yard line on the opening series of the game. On first down, Early Doucet caught Russell's pass at the 3-yard line, and Keiland Williams ran in for the score on the very next play.
LSU drove 80 yards in eight plays on its next possession to open a 14-0 lead on Dwyane Bowe's 11-yard pass from Russell.
Notre Dame finally found some offense on its next series and got on the board with Quinn's 24-yard touchdown pass to David Grimes.
Russell was sacked and lost the football at his own 21-yard line on LSU's ensuing possession, but the Tiger defense held the Irish to a 34-yard field goal attempt that missed.
Notre Dame blew another scoring opportunity the next time it got the ball back on a punt. After driving to the Tiger 36-yard line, Quinn was intercepted.
The Tigers left the door open for the Irish again when their 31-yard field goal attempt also missed. That's when Notre Dame finally took advantage of an opportunity and drove for the tying touchdown, a 10-yard Quinn pass to Jeff Samardzija.
The second half was all LSU and the score could have been much worse than the final.
On the Tigers' first drive of the third quarter, LSU converted a fake field goal attempt into a first down at the Notre Dame 16 when Chris Jackson (kick-off specialist and punter) ran 7 yards on an option pitch from the holder. However, on 4th down from the 8-yard line, they wound up settling for Colt David's 26-yard field goal anyway.
LSU added another David field goal on their next series, this time from 37 yards out. While those first two drives of the second half netted 132 yards, the Tigers had just six points to show for it.
Two minutes later, though, LSU got the ball back on a Notre Dame punt and Russell connected with Brandon LaFell on a 58-yard touchdown pass on the fifth play of the drive to open a 34-14 lead just before the end of the 3rd quarter.
Quinn was intercepted for the second time on Notre Dame's next possession and, again, LSU was unable to put more points on the board. Russell tried to go for the jugular with a 32-yard pass attempt to the endzone but was intercepted at the Irish goal line.
The Notre Dame offense was helpless by this point, and their final three possessions yielded ten plays that included two punts and a pair of clock-killing, game-surrendering runs in the final seconds.
Williams, who finished the night with 107 yards on just 14 carries for an average of 7.6 yards per carry, provided the final 41-14 margin with his second touchdown on a 20-yard run with 7:27 left in the game.
LSU rolled up 577 yards of total offense against the tired and out-manned Notre Dame defense.
The Tigers ended the season 11-2 while the Irish fell to 10-3 and left the Superdome still winless in bowl games since a 1993 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M.