|Bowl Game Preview: Sugar Bowl|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Wednesday, 03 January 2007 07:36|
Betting Public Picking LSU Over Notre Game in The Sugar Bowl
57% of Bets Placed on LSU -8 | Matchup | CFB Picks
The 11th-ranked Irish look to avoid their ninth straight defeat in a bowl game when they meet No. 4 LSU in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 3.
Oddsmakers have made LSU -8 point spread favorites
Last season's Sugar Bowl was moved to Atlanta after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the Louisiana Superdome. This year, the game has returned to New Orleans with a local feel to it.
LSU (10-2) will make a short trip from its campus in Baton Rouge, and should have plenty of support.
``I think everybody close to the program is certainly glad to see us playing in New Orleans,'' Tigers coach Les Miles said. ``We really enjoy that city. It's a wonderful place and we can hardly wait to get there.''
Notre Dame may not feel the same way.
The Irish (10-2) expect to face a raucous crowd as they try to snap an eight-game bowl losing streak - tying the NCAA record set by South Carolina (1945-1988) and matched by West Virginia (1987-98).
``I know LSU home games are known for being a loud crowd,'' Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski said. ``It's definitely going to be like another home game for them playing in their home state. But Notre Dame travels pretty well so hopefully we'll come prepared. We've played in hostile environments before, so we should be ready.''
Notre Dame's last bowl victory was 24-21 against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1994.
``We want to win a bowl game and we want to stop answering questions about Notre Dame not being able to win bowl games,'' Zbikowski said.
The Irish began the season ranked No. 2 and were hoping to make a trip to the BCS national championship game in Glendale, Ariz. They opened with consecutive victories over Georgia Tech and Penn State, but were routed 47-21 by Michigan at home in their third game.
Notre Dame went on to win eight straight following that loss and had slim hopes of reaching the title game heading into its season finale at Southern California on Nov. 25. A 44-24 defeat to the Trojans, though, ended any thoughts of a national championship.
Senior Brady Quinn did his part against USC, completing 22 of 45 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in his final regular-season game. The Heisman Trophy finalist hit on 63.4 percent of his passes this season for 3,278 yards and 35 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions.
He has won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the nation's top senior quarterback, and the Maxwell Award as college football's top player, beating out Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith of Ohio State. Quinn finished third in the Heisman voting behind Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.
``I think what makes him special, that really separates him from a lot of other players, is he has that special something that only those rare quarterbacks have,'' Irish coach Charlie Weis said. ``I can't really explain what that special something is, but he's got it.
``I can't imagine any player in this country being more important to his team than Brady Quinn is to ours. Maybe that exists. I just can't imagine it.''
To send Quinn out a winner and end the losing streak in bowls, Notre Dame will have to defeat an LSU team that moved into BCS consideration by winning its last six contests, including a 31-26 victory at SEC West-champion Arkansas in its regular-season finale on Nov. 24.
The Tigers' two defeats this season came on the road to teams that were then ranked in the top 5 - Auburn on Sept. 16 and Florida on Oct. 7.
``Our team is looking forward to this game,'' Miles said. ``You want to celebrate a great season with a quality opponent in a bowl game and Notre Dame offers just that. Anyway you cut it, Notre Dame is a great team.''
LSU is led on offense by junior quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who set career highs this season with 2,797 passing yards and 26 TDs as the Tigers finished 10th in the country in scoring with 33.1 points per game. The team's strength, however, is its defense.
The Tigers were second in the nation in total defense, giving up 238.8 yards per game, and fourth in the country with 12.5 points allowed per contest. Notre Dame averaged 398.0 yards of offense and 32.4 points a game.
``When you're playing a team the caliber of LSU, the first thing that comes to mind is making sure that our players are ready for the speed of the game,'' Weis said. ``Obviously they play with great passion and great emotion, but the speed of the game is the No. 1 thing that we're going to have to be ready for. If not, you're going to be in for a long night.''
West Virginia upset SEC champion Georgia 38-35 at the Georgia Dome in last season's Sugar Bowl, but after a $185 million renovation to the Superdome, the game is returning home.
``If we could have written this script, we couldn't have written it any better,'' Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said. ``These two teams in New Orleans is just what the doctor ordered. This is an absolute panacea for what's happened here, where we need to go and what has to happen in the future.''
Notre Dame is 5-4 all-time against LSU, but the Tigers have played a part in the Irish's bowl skid with a 27-9 victory in the 1997 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
More NCAA College Football Coverage from theSpread.com
- NCAA College Football public betting chart