Game Prediction

It's the final game of the year and it appears everyone is picking against the Irish in tonight's Sugar Bowl matchup. Will the Irish shock the world?

It certainly seems to be the easy pick to pick against Notre Dame in this game. The Irish face the ninth-ranked team in scoring offense, averaging over 33 points per game in tonight's game. They also happen to face the No.3 team in the country in total defense, and a Tiger defense ranked No. 5 in scoring defense allowing just 12.5 points per game.

The Tigers have allowed just eight sacks all season. Starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell has thrown 26 touchdowns while also completing almost 69 percent of his passes. LSU averaged 4.6 yards a carry this year and scored 22 touchdowns on the ground.

To compare, Notre Dame averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and only managed 14 touchdowns on the ground.

The Tiger defense allowed just seven rushing touchdowns and nine passing touchdowns this entire year. The Irish defense allowed eight rushing and 22 passing touchdowns this season.

Oh, and by the way, the Tigers have 38 sacks on the season and surrender an impressive 5.3 yards per pass attempt.

When you look at these stats, you have to wonder how LSU ever lost a game….hmm.

When you look at this game on paper this is not a good matchup for the Irish. Notre Dame struggles against teams with good defenses. LSU has allowed just nine passing touchdowns all season. That's less than one per game. They get after the quarterback, and they stop the run. It all spells doom.

The Irish certainly have their hands full tonight, but I do think they have one advantage that nobody is talking about….the psychological advantage.

Why? If I'm Notre Dame, I'm just plain mad at this point.

Nobody thinks Notre Dame will win this game. Not one person will pick the Irish when predicting the outcome of this game. LSU's great receiver Dwayne Bowe certainly had no problem letting Notre Dame know his feelings on their worthiness to grace the field with the mighty Tigers.

This week has been all about the Tigers. It's been about their overall talent, their team speed, their quarterback, their defensive line, and their outstanding coordinators. All, I admit, are justified and worth talking about.

But the Irish do have some playmakers s well, and we've seen this team play out of their minds at times. Unfortunately, we haven't seen it enough lately.

But the last time this team got mad, the second half against MSU, they looked like they could play with anyone. I just wish they'd get mad more often.

But I like head coach Charlie Weis' approach to this game thus far. The Irish just happen to be there. They're an afterthought. I doubt Weis has had a whole lot to say this week. In fact, I'm going to guess this team had a lot of fun this week—and that's the right way to play this one.

There's no reason for this team to get uptight about this game because everyone expects they'll lose anyway….even a good number of their own fans.

I've long been worried that the Irish won't have much to play for in this game. This team is a very senior dominated team. Their SuperBowl started with Michigan and they lost. I've wondered if they'd have enough motivation to play the type of game they need to be competitive in this game. I think they do now.

I recently pointed out to someone that LSU is human as they did struggle to beat Alabama and Ole Miss at the end of the season. His reply: "Well, they get up for the big games, but they can have lapses in the little games." Really? Why did they lose twice in big games then?

Maybe this team is just really talented but doesn't play up to their talent? Unfortunately, I think the Irish can have a little bit of that Jekyll and Hyde in them as well.

This game is hard to predict because we really don't know which team, on either side is going to show up. Is LSU, with all that talent, going to play up to their ability? If they do, it could be a very long day for the Irish. Will the Irish play to the level we've seen against USC last year, and in the second half of Michigan State this year? If they do, they could surprise a lot of people.

I see a lot of disrespect, a very loose attitude and a lot to be motivated about for Notre Dame. I see a lot of people praising LSU, a comfortable surrounding, and a late distraction for LSU. Throw in the fact that LSU's coordinators might have one foot out the door, and who knows how this game unfolds.

I will say that if LSU plays up to their talent, I'm not sure even ND's best effort will be enough. This LSU team is just too talented. But that's why the play the game.

Mike Frank Prediction

I do think the Irish will play better than many expect because of the reasons I mentioned above, but I'm still not convinced it will be enough. I just don't see how they can slow down LSU on offense unless they force a lot of turnovers….something this Irish defense hasn't done a lot of this year.

LSU: 38 Notre Dame: 28 Top Stories