Notre Dame Invited to 2007 Sugar Bowl vs. LSU

( – For the second year in a row under Charlie Weis Notre Dame is headed to a BCS Bowl game after being selected by the Sugar Bowl to face off against the LSU Tigers. The Sugar Bowl had the second selection for losing Florida to the national title game as well as the third selection for having the latest non national championship game and used them to select the Tigers and the Irish.

Notre Dame had been rumored to be likely be the choice of the Sugar Bowl for weeks because of the national fan base the Irish have and as soon they were given the opportunity to pick the Irish they did just that. LSU meanwhile gives the Sugar Bowl a local team and allows them to stay loyal to their SEC ties after losing the Gators to the title game.

After going to just one BCS game in the first seven years of the BCS, Notre Dame has now gone to back to back big money bowl games under Weis. Weis led the Irish to the Fiesta Bowl last year where Notre Dame fell to Ohio State 34-20.

LSU meanwhile, was thought to be a lock for the Rose Bowl until USC’s loss at the hands of UCLA Saturday evening. The Rose Bowl liked the idea of a Michigan-LSU matchup, but when the Trojans lost to the Bruins and Florida got the nod for the title game over Michigan, USC was sent to Pasadena as the Pac 10 champ. The Rose Bowl still got the first selection of the bowls to replace Ohio State, but they selected Michigan to stay true to its Big 10 ties.

The Tigers, one of the most talented teams in the country, come in at 10-2 like the Irish and just like the Irish, both of LSU’s losses came at the hands of two top 10 teams – national title game participant Florida and Auburn.

From top to bottom, LSU is one of the most talented teams in the country and are on par with anyone on Notre Dame’s schedule this year. Their defense is ranked second overall in the country and they allow just 12.5 points a game. The Tigers have also held six of their 12 opponents to 10 points or less this year.

Offensively, the Tigers are led by JaMarcus Russell who has thrown 26 touchdowns to seven interceptions this year. Russell has completed 68.5% of his passes as well this year and while his rushing stats don’t back it up – he posses good mobility and the ability to move around in the pocket.

LSU doesn’t have a single rusher who’s topped 500 yards this year, but they still averaged 159.2 yards a game on the ground and as a team they averaged 4.6 yards a carry compared to Notre Dame’s 3.8 average. Jacob Hester leads the Tigers with 415 yards and six touchdowns, Keiland Williams is second on the team with 329 yards, and Alley Broussard is third with 281 yards.

The Notre Dame offense will find it tough to score on a LSU defense that allowed only four opponents to score more than 20 points this year. The stingy Tiger defense has also only allowed nine passing touchdowns all season while intercepting 14 passes. One thing working in Notre Dame’s favor is that LSU hasn’t faced an offense that is as successful throwing the football as the Irish.

The most important stat of all heading into this showdown for Notre Dame, however, is the eight game losing streak the Irish have in bowl games. The last bowl win for the Irish came after the 1993 season when Notre Dame beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Snapping that streak against the Tigers will prove to be very tough for the Weis and the Irish, but with a month to prepare Weis should have his team focused and well prepared. will have plenty more insight and analysis on the Sugar Bowl over the next month so check back often for more updates.

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