• 54°

College Football: Sugar Bowl

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — JaMarcus Russell cocked his head, glanced toward the towering Superdome stands and soaked up the pleas of the LSU faithful.

“One more year! One more year!” they screamed.

The way the mammoth quarterback played against Notre Dame, there seems little reason for him to spend any more time in college.

Russell thoroughly outperformed Brady Quinn and sent Notre Dame to another postseason meltdown, leading No. 4 LSU to a 41-14 rout of college football’s most storied program Wednesday night.

The Sugar Bowl returned to New Orleans with a Cajun-style party, which left the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish with a most unwanted spot in the record book. They lost their ninth straight bowl game, more than any other school.

“I just think,” LSU coach Les Miles said, “I’ve got the best quarterback in the country.”

Certainly he had the best on this night. The 6-foot-6, 257-pound Russell completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He also had his first rushing score of the season and set up another TD with a 31-yard pass.

Russell and LSU’s feared defense took control after halftime, turning a tenuous 21-14 game into a laugher. The Tigers (11-2) outgained Notre Dame by a staggering 333 yards to 30 over the final two quarters.

After a brilliant junior season, Russell hasn’t decided whether he will return to LSU (11-2) for his senior year. But he would likely be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the draft.

“I really do think I’m one of the best in college football,” Russell said. “You can’t take that opinion away from me.”

And what about the NFL?

“I’m not really thinking about leaving early right now,” Russell insisted. “I’ve got a lot of time to sit down with my family and coaches and talk about that. I’m just happy we got the victory.”

The school of Touchdown Jesus and Knute Rockne snapped a tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for most consecutive bowl losses in NCAA history. And this was like most of the others, a double-digit blowout that showed Notre Dame still has work to do if it wants to compete with the nation’s best.

“We’ve got to turn the corner,” coach Charlie Weis said. “Right now, we’re just a nice, solid team. That won’t cut it. We want to be an upper-echelon team.”

Quinn doesn’t have a decision to make about his pro future, but the senior’s hopes of being the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft may have taken a blow. He struggled to cope with the speed and size of LSU’s defense, completing just 15-of-35 for 148 yards, his two TD passes offset by two interceptions.

“They took it from us in the third quarter,” Quinn said. “I’m proud of my guys. … We laid the groundwork for these guys to do great things in the future.”

LSU romped after halftime. After a pair of field goals by Colt David, Russell blew it open with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell in the final minute of the third quarter.

Notre Dame (10-3) bounced back from an early 14-0 deficit and tied the game with 21/2 minutes left in the first half. But Russell’s took matters in his own hands — and legs — to put the Tigers ahead to stay before the teams went to the locker room.

First, Russell went deep to Early Doucet for a 58-yard completion. Then, Russell scored himself on a 5-yard keeper up the middle.

Russell said his matchup with Quinn wasn’t personal.

“My main thing was to play a good game against Brady Quinn’s defense,” Russell said. “I wasn’t playing against him.”

“O-ver-ra-ted!” the Tiger-dominated crowd roared after freshman Keiland Williams ripped off his second touchdown of the game, a 20-yard run with just under 71/2 minutes remaining.

But the biggest cheers came on LSU’s next possession. Russell made one handoff, then came out of the game to standing ovation.

Notre Dame was determined to get off to a strong start, but it sure didn’t work out that way. Weis called a fake punt that backfired, and the Irish looked just as tight and nervous as they did at the beginning of blowout losses to Michigan and Southern Cal.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed

Education

Faith Academy interviewing staff, preparing site for fall opening

News

Volunteers work around obstacles, alter procedures to offer free tax services to those in need

Education

Education shoutouts

Local

Retired Marine gets recognition for toy collection efforts

Local

March issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Education

Five get Dunbar School Heritage Scholarships

Education

Education briefs: Salisbury Academy fourth-graders think big as inventors

Education

Bakari Sellers keynote speaker at Livingstone College Founder’s Day program

Nation/World

Biden aims to distribute masks to millions in ‘equity’ push

Nation/World

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Nation/World

GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package

Nation/World

FDA says single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson prevents severe COVID

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs

Local

Local stakeholders set goals, direction to tackle city’s housing issues

Education

RSS board talks future of Henderson Independent School