Russell Outplays Quinn As LSU Wins Sugar

The Associated Press
Thursday, January 4, 2007; 4:22 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- JaMarcus 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.

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