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January 1, 2007
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Notre Dame
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Get the inside scoop on your favorite team:
Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn knows the perfect way to end his brilliant career.
"We haven't gotten a bowl win since I've been here," Quinn said, "so why not prove everyone else wrong who says we're not good enough to beat LSU right now?"
Easier said than done.
No. 4 Louisiana State enters the Sugar Bowl (8:25 p.m., Fox) as one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Tigers own a six-game winning streak that includes victories away from home against Arkansas and Tennessee, who both were ranked in the top 10 at the time.
Notre Dame has taken a giant step forward in Charlie Weis' two-year coaching tenure, but the Irish have struggled against elite teams this season. Notre Dame fell 47-21 at home to Michigan and lost 44-24 at Southern California in its regular-season finale.
Since the end of the USC game, the Irish have heard plenty of critics argue that they have no chance of ending their eight-game bowl losing streak. Notre Dame hasn't won a postseason game since beating Texas A&M 24-21 in the 1994 Cotton Bowl.
"I get tired of hearing how bad we are," said Quinn, the third-place finisher in the Heisman Trophy balloting. "I mean, that's all people seem to be saying sometimes. Notre Dame is one of those universities where it's kind of like either you love it or you hate it. It's tough because you've got to deal with the criticism all the time. So we win a big game against a great team like (LSU), you can't really say a whole lot back."
Louisiana State's seniors also have plenty at stake.
"If they win this game, they will have set the all-time career mark for victories at LSU,'' Tigers coach Les Miles said. "They will be the winningest senior class in the history of LSU. There's a lot to play for."
This also represents an important game for LSU junior quarterback JaMarcus Russell, particularly if he decides to enter the NFL Draft instead of returning for his senior season.
Quinn is generally considered the top quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft class. Russell's pro stock could soar if he outplays Quinn and leads the Tigers to a convincing victory.
"My focus is to try to get my teammates in position to make plays," Russell said. "We need to go out there and just keep doing what we have been doing the whole year. If that happens, I think we will do great."