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Tigers destroy Notre Dame in Sugar Bowl

By PAUL NEWBERRY

AP National Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — JaMarcus Russell has a big decision to make. The way he played in the Sugar Bowl, it shouldn’t be all that tough.

This guy sure looks ready to play in the NFL.

Russell was the star of a Cajun-style party that marked the Sugar Bowl’s return to the Big Easy, leading No. 4 LSU to a 41-14 victory Wednesday night and leaving Notre Dame to wallow in another postseason meltdown.

The 11th-ranked Fighting Irish, with their undersized defense, simply couldn’t find a way to stop this behemoth of a quarterback.

The 6-foot-6, 257-pound Russell threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He powered over for his first rushing touchdown of the season, pounding his chest after he landed in the end zone. He was unanimous choice as the game’s most outstanding player.

“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? Russell now much decide whether to enter the draft or return to the Tigers (11-2) for his senior season, which would seem like a slam dunk.

“I’m not really thinking about leaving early right now,” he 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.”

Notre Dame (10-3) never seems to win at this time of year, a hideous burden for the nation’s most storied program. The Irish lost their ninth straight bowl game, more than other school in NCAA history; they had been tied with South Carolina and West Virginia for the longest drought.

“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.”

Russell thoroughly outplayed Notre Dame’s more heralded quarterback. Brady Quinn, who finished third in the Heisman balloting and hopes to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, struggled to cope with the speed and size of LSU’s defense. The senior completed just 15-of-35 for 148 yards, his two TD passes offset by two interceptions.