NEW ORLEANS -- JaMarcus Russell thoroughly outplayed Brady Quinn and made a compelling case that the mammoth quarterback's next pass should come in the NFL.
As for Notre Dame, it was a familiar meltdown at bowl time.
The Sugar Bowl returned to New Orleans with a Cajun-style party put on by No. 4 LSU, which dominated college football's most storied program in a 41-14 rout last night that had the Superdome rockin'.
It also gave the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish a most unwanted spot in the record book.
The school of Touchdown Jesus and Knute Rockne now has a more ignominious distinction: nine straight bowl losses, breaking a tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for the most in NCAA history. And this was like most of the others, a double-digit blowout that showed Notre Dame still has work to do if it wants to compete with the nation's best.
"We've got to turn the corner," said coach Charlie Weis. "Right now, we're a nice, solid team. That won't cut it. We want to be an upper-echelon team."
Russell and LSU's feared defense took control after halftime, turning a tenuous 21-14 game into a laugher. The 6-foot-6-inch, 257-pound quarterback, who is bigger than many players on Notre Dame's defense, threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He also had his first rushing score of the season and set up LSU's other TD with a 31-yard pass.
After a brilliant junior season, Russell hasn't decided -- or at least announced -- whether he will return to LSU (11-2) for his senior year.
But he would likely be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the draft with his linebacker-like size, stunningly strong arm, and the ability to run when needed.
"One more year," the LSU fans pleaded to their quarterback.
Quinn doesn't have a decision to make, but the senior's hopes of being the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft may have taken a blow. He struggled to cope with the speed and size of LSU's defense, completing just 15 of 35 passes for 148 yards, his two TD passes offset by two interceptions.
"They took it from us in the third quarter," Quinn said. "I'm proud of my guys. We laid the groundwork for these guys to do great things in the future."
LSU romped after halftime. The Fighting Irish piled up 261 yards in the first half but were outgained, 333-30, over the final two quarters.
Russell blew it open with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell in the final minute of the third.
Notre Dame (10-3) bounced back from an early 14-0 deficit and tied the score with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half. But Russell took matters in his own hands -- and legs -- to put the Tigers ahead to stay before the teams went to the locker room.
First, Russell went deep to Early Doucet for a 58-yard completion. Then Russell scored on a 5-yard keeper up the middle.
"Our quarterback was the finest quarterback in the country tonight," LSU coach Les Miles said.
Russell said his matchup with Quinn wasn't personal.
"My main thing was to play a good game against Brady Quinn's defense," Russell said. "I wasn't playing against him."
And what about the NFL?
"I'm going to go home with my family, pray about it, and hopefully, I'll make the right decision," Russell said after being named the game's most valuable player.
Notre Dame hasn't won a postseason game since its 24-21 victory over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton Bowl. "O-ver-ra-ted!" the Tiger-dominated crowd roared after freshman Keiland Williams ripped off his second touchdown of the game, a 20-yard run with just under 7 1/2 minutes remaining.