Hating Notre Dame is a tradition as American as apple pie, baseball, horrible clichés or even liking Notre Dame. There isn't a college football fanbase alive that gets tired of embarrassing the most haughty, overbearing, holier-than-thou football program in the game.
So when the 2007 Sugar Bowl matchup was announced, LSU fans got over their Rose Bowl disappointment (some may remember that several Baton Rouge media outlets reported that a trip to Pasadena was a "done deal," the morning of selection Sunday) with thought of handing Notre Dame, a top-10 team lead by an all-but-crowned "genius" head coach in Charlie Weis and a projected No. 1 overall draft pick in quarterback Brady Quinn.
My immediate reaction?
Many believe the 2006 LSU team to be the greatest assemblage of talent we've ever seen here. I think that the 2011 squad has an argument, but there's no denying that by the end of that season, the 06 Tigers were playing football as well as anybody. A rebuilding offensive line was costly in some early season losses to Auburn and Florida, but by the end of the season the running game came together and the Jamarcus Russell-led passing attack was absolutely eviscerating opponents. A shootout win over the SEC West champion Run-DMC Arkansas squad might not have gotten LSU to Atlanta, but it had them securely in the top 10 after an incredibly difficult schedule in one of the conference's deepest seasons. The Tigers weren't in the national championship discussion, nor should they have been, but they were good enough to beat anybody.
Notre Dame rode high through Weis' first two seasons. Nineteen wins, a close loss to a loaded USC team in 2005 and Tom Brady coat tails had a pretty significant percentage of the sports punditry that the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator was one of the top coaches in the game and well on his way to "waking up the echoes."
Seems funny now, right?
Imagine how funny it seemed to me when the sentiment began to arise that "you know, Notre Dame is so well-coached, and Brady Quinn is just so darned good, Notre Dame's not about to just get run over by LSU, I don't care how talented they are." Nevermind the absolute shit-kickings at the hands of Michigan, Ohio State (in the previous season's Fiesta Bowl) and USC -- the closest analogies to the Tigers in terms of talent.
I used to watch Mike & Mike a lot of mornings getting ready for work (I still do, but I used to too). And every time this topic came up with Mike Golic, my reaction was something like...
I'm usually one of the more cautious writers on this site, and even I saw this boat race coming.
The Tigers did not disappoint. After a foolish and rather desperate fake punt was snuffed out, the Tigers scored in two plays. On the next possession they went 80 yards in eight plays for another touchdown. The Domers managed to show a bit of life in the second quarter, even tying the game at 14. But from there, LSU put up 27 straight points, scoring on five out of the next six possessions.
Russell finished with 332 yards and three total touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush), including one of the most spectacular throws you'll ever see on a 58-yard bomb to Brandon LaFell.
Overall, the Tigers out-gained the Irish by nearly 300 yards and held Quinn to just 148 yards on 15-of-35 passing, with two interceptions. The performance would help propel Russell to the first-overall pick in the following NFL Draft, and he'd be joined by teammates LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe and Craig "Buster" Davis later on that round.
It was a dominant statement from a program that was still beginning to show America that the best was still to come from the Tigers under Les Miles.