NEW ORLEANS - JaMarcus Russell cocked his head, glanced toward the towering Superdome stands and soaked up the pleas of the LSU faithful.
“One more year! One more year!” they screamed.
The way the mammoth quarterback played against Notre Dame, there seems little reason for him to spend any more time in college.
Russell thoroughly outperformed Brady Quinn and sent Notre Dame to another postseason meltdown, leading No. 4 LSU to a 41-14 rout of college football’s most storied program Wednesday night.
The Sugar Bowl returned to New Orleans with a Cajun-style party, which left the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish with a most unwanted spot in the record book. They lost their ninth straight bowl game, more than any other school.
“I just think,” LSU coach Les Miles said, “I’ve got the best quarterback in the country.”
Certainly he had the best on this night. The 6-foot-6, 257-pound Russell completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He also had his first rushing score of the season and set up another TD with a 31-yard pass.
Russell and LSU’s feared defense took control after halftime, turning a tenuous 21-14 game into a laugher. The Tigers (11-2) outgained Notre Dame by a staggering 333 yards to 30 over the final two quarters.
After a brilliant junior season, Russell hasn’t decided 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.
“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?
“I’m not really thinking about leaving early right now,” Russell 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.”
The school of Touchdown Jesus and Knute Rockne snapped a tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for most consecutive bowl losses 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,” 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.”
“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.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Notre Dame (10-3) bounced back from an early 14-0 deficit and tied the game with 2½ 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.
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
HBO Real Sports: Bill O'Brien
Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
BCS title game
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