10-2 (0-0) Independents (I-A)
10-2 (6-2), 2nd Southeastern - West
The Sugar Bowl is back in its home in New Orleans after spending a year in Atlanta. This has a potential to be a great match up with a high power offense in Notre Dame going up against a speedy and hard hitting defense in LSU. Notre Dame comes into this game after losing to USC. Their other loss this year was to Michigan, but they beat Georgia Tech, Navy, and Penn State. All bowl teams. As for LSU their two losses were a 7-3 loss against Auburn where they out-gained them, and a 13 point loss to the Florida Gators. LSU has been no slouch offensively as they have scored an average of 32.8 ppg in their last 6 games.
On offense the Tigers only go as far as their quarterback takes them. JaMarcus Russell comes in the game with 2797 yards passing with 26 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Russell got the monkey off his back about not winning a big game in his career as he led the Tigers to beat Tennessee and a few weeks later beat Arkansas. Jacob Hester leads the rushing attack with a little over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe is Russell's favorite target as he caught 60 balls for 912 yards and 11 touchdowns. His fellow WR Craig Davis has 700 yards receiving and is a nice compliement to Bowe. Davis is also dangerous in returning punts.
LSU prides itself on playing defense. For the year the Tigers averaged giving up 145.5 yards through the air and 93.3 yards in the air. The Tigers should take a page from Georgia Tech's book and pressure Brady Quinn all day.
Notre Dame comes into the Sugar Bowl riding an eight game bowl losing streak. If they lose this game they will tie the record for the most consecutive bowl losses. Their last bowl victory you ask, 1994. It isn't going to be easy because LSU is practically playing a home game. Brady Quinn finished third in the Heisman this year throwing for 3278 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. His two favorite targets are Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight who combined for 1800 yards receiving and 26 of Quinn's 35 touchdowns. The Irish also have a polished rushing attack with Darius Walker's 1100 yards and 7 touchdowns. In the return game don't forget about Tom Zbikowski.
It isn't the Irish's offense I am worried about, it is their defense. In their two losses they gave up over 40 points and average giving up 127.8 yards on the ground and almost 200 yards per game in the air.
I am looking forward to watching this game. I think the Notre Dame offense will be able to move the ball on the LSU defense, the questions is whether the Notre Dame defense can stop the LSU offense. We have heard all week about the Southern Speed that the SEC teams seem to have over the rest of the country, but Charlie Weis has a lot of speed on his team too. When it comes down to it I think the difference between the LSU O vs the ND D is greater than the ND O vs the LSU D. So I will take LSU in a hard fought game. LSU 28-20
Brian from CFR