NEW ORLEANS (AP) – 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 Wednesday 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.

Russell and LSU’s feared defense took control after halftime, turning a tenuous 21-14 game into a laugher. The 6-foot-6, 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 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 ion 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 for 148 yards, his two TD passes offset by two interceptions.

It was Quinn’s worst showing since a 140-yard performance against Michigan in the second game of his junior season. Hardly the sort of performance that was expected from the third-place finisher in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

Notre Dame (10-3) bounced back from an early 14-0 deficit and tied the game with just 21/2 minutes left in the first half. But Russell’s 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, one of the quarterback’s trio of receivers dubbed “The Three Musketeers,” for a 58-yard completion. Then, Russell scored himself on a 5-yard keeper up the middle.

“Our quarterback was the finest quarterback in the country,” LSU coach Les Miles said.

LSU romped after halftime. The Fighting Irish, who piled up 261 yards in the first half, were outgained 333-30 over the final two quarters.

Notre Dame hasn’t won a postseason game since its 24-21 victory over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton Bowl. The Irish have been outscored 316-157 during their losing streak, with seven of the defeats by double-digit margins.

“O-ver-ra-ted!” the Tiger-dominated crowd roared after Keiland Williams ripped off his second touchdown of the game, a 20-yard run for the final score.

AP-ES-01-04-07 0024EST

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