The Sugar Bowl: A “Capital” Opportunity?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

The pundits said they had no chance in their January bowl game. Outmanned and outgunned on both sides of the ball. Not enough depth. Not enough athleticism. Not enough speed. A slow, plodding team meets the irresistible force of the Southeastern Conference’s finest.

To be sure, there was the occasional voice in the wilderness. That Midwest beat writer in some random smalltown newspaper column who entertained the idea of the SEC being about parity more than superiority. “Is the SEC so competitive because the best are beating the best?” he pondered. “Or is it because the average are beating the average?”

But his was a lone voice. After all, the SEC was football country. And this was a two-loss SEC team a mere handful of points removed from a shot at the national championship game. “The best two-loss team in the country,” said many, adding, “This team is too good for such an overmatched bowl opponent.”

And just what had this “overmatched bowl opponent” and their rotund head coach done to earn such derisive nods from the college football talking heads?

An offense that had scored 31 or more points in 8 of 12 games was simply dismissed as a product of a “weak schedule”…

They had played a close game against a mediocre North Carolina team… 

Their defense was soft, giving up a lot of points to a lot of teams, good and bad…

They had lost to the only two ranked teams they played all season…

Final Score of the 2006 Capital One Bowl:
Wisconsin 24 – Auburn 10

Are last season’s Badgers this season’s Irish?

Could two storylines be any similar, down to the smallest statistic?

Probably little more than one of those completely random string of coincidences.

Then again, it always helps that a precedence has been established.



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  1. Mudbug,

    I hear ya. Just give me 4 qtrs of good football where the outcome isnt determined until late in the 4th qtr. Of course I’d prefer an ND blowout of LSU (nothing against your Tigers)which would shock the world & finally get ND some much needed respect. But we know that ain’t happenin. Good luck!

  2. “I hope you’re right, Mudbug, but I think you’re pulling a Lou Holtz by praising the opposing team as being better than they really are”

    Irish Realist,
    Funny, I was thinking exactly the same thing about the comments from previous postings here. You ND fans have had a lot better training from Lou Holtz than I did. 🙂

    Either way, it should be a fun game to watch. I am not an “extreme” Tiger fan. So whoever wins this one will get my praise.

  3. I hope you’re right, Mudbug, but I think you’re pulling a Lou Holtz by praising the opposing team as being better than they really are. LSU has argubly the most talent of any team in the nation. They should blow ND out of the water by the end of the 1st quarter. We thought USC had speed on defense, so you can imagine what will happen when ND realizes that LSU is faster on both sides of the ball the the Trojans. If LSU doesn’t win by at least 3 touchdowns, Les Miles should resign on the spot. ND may have upset the higher ranked Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl, but it ain’t gonna happen this time. Back then, ND really did have one of the more talented teams in the nation…they just underachieved. Then when they were huge underdogs in the “Cheerios” bowl, Holtz worked his magic as both Offensive & Defensive coordinator & pulled the upset blowout of Steve Superior & his mighty Gators. But again, it ain’t 1992.

  4. With more than a month of practice for both teams, each knowing who their opponent will be, this is a time to reset all the records.

    I give the advantage in this game to the Irish, because LSU is going into the game heavily favored, but disappointed for not getting to face Michigan or USC in the Rose Bowl. I don’t think thier heart will be totally there, even though it will be a quasi-home game. They have nothing to prove or gain. No comference bragging rights on the line…no arch rivals to humiliate. Only a Sugar Bowl trophy to collect (They have two others in the ’90’s).

    LSU fans and athelets wanted badly to face USC, because of USC’s the stolen National Championship of 2004, awarded because of their big media status and being the favorite son of the AP writers of the day, rather than actually participating in the Championship game. It was finally going to be a “Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up” year for LSU vs USC. Most LSU fans are sure LSU would have embarassed USC in that game. They actually had 42,000 tickets ordered for Pasadena before the BCS announcement last week.

    On the other hand, with a very good team, Notre Dame has…how many strait bowl losses??…eight or nine? The Irish have a lot to prove this year, and an ideal opportunity to do it.

    Notre Dame is not hated in the Louisiana. In fact, they are considered a favorite “second team from out of conference” by many, as South Louisiana (LSU Country) is heavily French Catholic populated. Baby Boomer fans were raised in the Catholic schools singing the Notre Dame fight songs in the ’50’s and ’60’s. Nuns of the day were very high on Notre Dame and pagan babies back then.

    Notre Dame’s schedule was not weak this year by any standard. Their only losses were from the final #3 Michigan and #5 USC teams in final BCS poll. Notre Dame also beat #25 UCLA, who defeated USC and knocked them out of the National Championship game.

    LSU’s losses were from #2 Florida and #9 Auburn. LSU also beat #10 Arkansas and #17 Tennessee. Arkansas was whollped by USC 40-3 in the season opener.

    I am an LSU season ticket holder, with both of my kids LSU graduates. This one is not going to be ours. This is Notre Dame’s year, finally.

  5. Check out the SBT article link on the UHND page. It makes all the points that I fear are true about the disparity between LSU & ND.

    The most interesting point is made by Tom Lemming. He claims the speed is there w/ the front 4, Zibby & Terrail Lambert. He puts the blame on the lack of speed w/ the LB unit. He may be right, but my unprofessional opinion is that there’s a differenct between pure speed calculated via 40 yd. dash or 100m sprint. Don’t leave out quickness & the ability to properly read an offense. Lambert has come a long way but Zibby & Ndukwe continue to bite on the play action. Zibby’s speed is, unfortunately, only exhibited when chasing the ball carrier across the field after breaking loose in the secondary & finally getting pushed out inside the 10 or 20 yd line.

    However, if Lemming’s assessment is correct and it is the defensive schemes, then a change must be made ASAP maybe even before the bowl game. Bottom line: if they show up w/ the same schemes they did vs. USC & Michigan, than this game will be another embarrassing track meet & ND will hold a record none of us want: most consecutive bowl losses.

  6. You never know what will happen. Is it possible that ND could win yes. I know we won’t see the new kids on the block until next year but I would like to have peek anyway. So what if ND loses. Yes I know everyone and their mother will say “I told you so”. There will always be thoses that hate ND and will have nothing good to say. I just think of it this way ND was the first to have 7 Heisman,the only team to have 11 titles. ND set the standard and Weis has just set the bar again for the team and expects nothing less. Weis will more than likely have a few title rings by the time he is done at ND and for that matter a couple more Heismans in the near future. I also beleive that most of the of the people who want ND to fail have come up against someone who isn’t going take the abuse anymore. In the past ND would take to so called high road and look the other way while the media and individuals have gone out of their way to discredit ND. The new president and Weis and the athletic director are very different and the media doesn’t like it and neither do the individuals who will continue to try to make ND look bad. Those days are over and soon enough the BIG DOG will be unleashed. Stay tuned.

  7. Nice comparison & I’m sure we’ll hear many recollections of the 1992 Sugar Bowl when an “undeserving ND” upset the heavily favored Gators. They didn’t just upset Florida, they took them behind the woodshed!

    Unfortunately, to me, it’s just empty reasoning for having hope that ND can compete w/ LSU. Just like all the theories that ND could compete w/ OSU in the Fiesta Bowl & w/ USC this year. THe Michigan game was an unpleasant suprise to every ND fan. I don’t think the loss was suprising, but the blow out surely was.

    The definition of insanity if doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results. After watching the OSU, Michigan & USC embarrassments, I’m not seeing anything different. This leads me to believe that Weis & co. are doing the best w/ what they have until their own personnel are on campus. That being said, I have no reason to think that LSU won’t completely embarrass ND the way they did Miami last year. But I still can hope & I’ll watch every second, blow out or not. After all, did anyone expect back-to-back BCS bowls in Weis’ first 2 yrs?

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