Forum Spin Doctor
The Sugar Bowl is coming home with a local favorite.
No. 4 LSU, which had yearned for a chance to head west for its first Rose Bowl, will instead stay much closer to Baton Rouge - a short trip to New Orleans to face 11th-ranked Notre Dame in the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl.
The Tigers (10-2) shot into Bowl Championship Series consideration by closing the regular season with a six-game winning streak, capped by a 31-26 triumph at Arkansas. The Razorbacks had already clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game, but LSU felt it might have been the best team in the league by the end of the year.
Notre Dame (10-2) will be playing in its first Sugar Bowl since 1992, when a Lou Holtz-coached team knocked off Florida 39-29.
The Fighting Irish thought they were headed for another possible meeting with the Gators in New Orleans - until Southern Cal was upset by UCLA 13-9 on Saturday. Florida defeated Arkansas in the SEC championship game later that night, earning a shot at No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS championship game at Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8.
No matter the opponent, Notre Dame has one pressing issue: ending an eight-game bowl losing streak. The Irish has tied an NCAA record set by South Carolina from 1945-1988 and equaled by West Virginia from 1987-98.
Notre Dame's last postseason victory was 24-21 over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1994.
The Sugar Bowl was shifted to Atlanta last season after the Superdome was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. West Virginia defeated SEC champion Georgia 38-35 at the Georgia Dome.
After a $185 million renovation, the Superdome opened in time for the NFL's New Orleans Saints to return to the Big Easy this season. The Sugar Bowl also came home, and perhaps its only appropriate that LSU is one of its teams on what figures to be another emotional night in a city still struggling to pick up the pieces.
The Tigers claimed the BCS championship three seasons ago at their home away from home, knocking off Oklahoma 21-14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
LSU had lobbied hard for a trip to the Rose Bowl, soliciting orders for more than 40,000 tickets. It appeared the oldest of the postseason games would pick the Tigers to face Michigan until USC's loss messed up those plans.
LSU still would have gone to Pasadena if Michigan had moved up to second place in the BCS standings, earning a rematch with undefeated Ohio State in the title game. But Florida leapfrogged the Wolverines to claim the coveted trip to Arizona.
Now, the Tigers will be playing in their 12th Sugar Bowl. They are 5-7 overall but have won their last two appearances at the Superdome.