FLASHBACK: Great Sugar Bowl games of the past

Since LSU beat Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving, plenty has happened. Winning over the Razorbacks kept the Tiger's BCS dreams alive, and the bowl possibilities started to fly.

With initial thoughts on the Rose Bowl, Tiger fans bought tickets to Pasadena by the thousands in anticipation of a meeting with either Michigan or a long awaited showdown against USC. Once the smoke cleared during Conference Championship week, however, LSU was given what could be the best possible ending to the 2006 season; an invitation to its third Sugar Bowl appearance in the past six years to square off with traditional national powerhouse Notre Dame.

 

In addition to acting as a sort of homecoming to the Tigers, who have played in the Sugar Bowl more than any other bowl game, this year's contest will also be the Bowl's return to its ‘home' location of the Louisiana Superdome since Hurricane Katrina.

 

Last year's Sugar Bowl was played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in Katrina's wake, with West Virginia defeating Georgia 38-35.

 

The bid marks the seventh consecutive season where the Tigers will play in a bowl game, holding a record of 4-2 in those games. The most recent bowl victory came in a 40-3 dismantling of the University of Miami in the Peach Bowl last December.

 

Historically, the Sugar Bowl will be nothing new for the Tigers, as they have appeared in the game 12 times dating back to 1936, including appearing in Sugar Bowls two, three and four. LSU is 5-7 overall in Sugar Bowl games, but is 4-2 since 1965. Following the game, LSU would have played in the Sugar Bowl more than any other team in college football. They are currently tied with Alabama at 12 appearances each.

 

The school's last trip to the Bowl in New Orleans ended in a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in which LSU won the 2003-04 National Championship. In that game, Tiger quarterback Matt Mauck completed 13 of 22 passes in the game for 124 yards, while running for 27 more yards to lead the team to the victory.

 

Earning the MVP award for the game was true freshman running back Justin Vincent, now a senior in the Tiger back field. Vincent rushed 16 times for 117 yards and one touchdown in that Sugar Bowl, including a 64-yard carry on the first play from scrimmage.

The story of the game for LSU, as it was all season, was the defense, which held Oklahoma's top-ranked offense to just 154 yards and 14 points, while coming up with five sacks and two interceptions against Heisman winner Jason White. One of the interceptions resulted in a touchdown from now Dallas Cowboy Marcus Spears.

 

Prior to the 2003-04 season, the Tigers' last trip to the Sugar Bowl came in January 2002, when LSU claimed the SEC crown to earn the Bowl bid and followed it with a 47-34 win over Illinois in New Orleans.

 

The win was LSU's first New Year's bowl victory in over 30 years, and landed the team with a final ranking in the nation's top 10.

 

LSU's offensive attack, led by Davey at quarterback and Josh Reed at wide receiver, was stellar in the meeting with Illinois, as the Tigers set eight Sugar Bowl records in the contest, headlined by Davey's 444 passing yards to earn him MVP honors.

 

Davey completed 31 of 53 passes in the game for three touchdowns, helped out by a 14 catch, 239-yard performance from Reed for two of the scores.

 

On the ground, LSU running back Dominick Davis ran for 122 yards and four touchdowns. The team set a bowl record with 595 yards of total offense, while LSU's 34 first-half points in the most in the history of the bowl game.

 

Before the Illinois game, the Tigers' last two trips to the Sugar Bowl were in 1985 and 1987, both resulting in losses to Nebraska with scores of 28-10 and 30-15.

 

Prior to the 80s, LSU last played in the 1968 game, topping Wyoming 20-13.

 

Notre Dame has appeared in the Sugar Bowl a total of three times, with the last one taking place against 1992 against Florida, where the Irish walked away with a 39-28 win.

 

They also played in the 1981 contest, losing 17-10 to top ranked Georgia, and beat Bear Bryant's Alabama squad 24-23 in the 1973 Sugar Bowl to claim the National Championship.

 

This year will mark the third consecutive season with a bowl appearance for the Irish, who also made it into the BCS last season, where they met with Ohio State in a 34-20 losing effort for Notre Dame.


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