Do you remember the 2007 Sugar Bowl?
Yes, that one: LSU 41, Notre Dame 14.
Do you remember JaMarcus Russell’s scintillating ending to an outstanding college career?
It’s tough to forget those 332 passing yards, the line-drive TD pass to Dwayne Bowe and the eight balls he tossed to Early Doucet.
It’s hard not to remember his scrambling 58-yard scoring toss to Brandon LaFell and his QB draw for a touchdown — a score that sparked him to pound his chest and point to the roof of a purple-and-gold-clad Superdome.
You do remember, right?
Well, you can forget it.
They’ll be no repeat of that magical quarterback play in Round II of LSU vs. Notre Dame.
The Tigers (8-4) and Irish (7-5) will play in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, on Dec. 30, and both squads have a soft spot at the most important position on the field — quarterback.
You know all about LSU’s issues. Anthony Jennings and his receivers have struggled this season to replace a trio of players now playing in the NFL: Zach Mettenberger, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
The Tigers have failed to throw for at least 200 yards in seven straight games. That’s the first time that has happened in at least 10 years, but probably much more.
LSU gave true freshman Brandon Harris a shot earlier this season, but he flopped in his first career start at Auburn. Many fans want Miles to give Harris more chances, and some were even threatening the life of Jennings on social media.
And the Irish?
They’ve got a controversy themselves.
Starter Everett Golson was benched in Notre Dame’s regular-season finale — a 49-14 loss at USC, the fourth straight for the Irish. Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday night that he’s unsure who will start against the Tigers: Golson, a senior who had a banner season in 2012 before missing last year for academic reasons, or Malik Zaire, a sophomore who was ranked as Rivals.com’s No. 3 dual-threat QB out of high school in 2013.
Golson has thrown at least one interception in the last nine games. During that stretch, he threw two picks twice and had four interceptions against Arizona State. At least 100 other starting quarterbacks in college football have fewer interceptions than his 14.
Combine that with an LSU defense ranked No. 1 in pass efficiency and, oh Nellie, this matchup won’t be the best example of the forward pass.
That’s a far cry from the last time these two met.
The QBs in that one — Russell and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn — were first-round draft picks. The QBs in this one … well, we’re not even sure who they’ll be.
Les Miles on Sunday night said that LSU’s dozen bowl practices will be a time to evaluate the position.
“Absolutely it is. You betcha,” he said when asked.
“It’s that time that you can continue to compete, continue to press your quarterbacks to throw it, run it and do the things that we’re going to ask them to do,” Miles continued. “If they have designs on being a leader on this team and being that quarterback, this will be a very competitive time even before the game.”
So is the competition open? Probably not completely, but the battle’s back on, it sure sounds like.
Harris and Jennings have split first-string snaps in practice 50-50 for much of this season. Why? Because LSU hasn’t determined its quarterback for the future, Miles said earlier this season.
Two more weeks of practice could help in that regard. Coaches seem to be waiting for Harris to “get it.” He has displayed flashes of his lofty ranking out of high school, but he’s had some blips along the way — mostly play-calling and play-running confusion.
Notre Dame isn’t devoid of that, either.
Forget 2007. There will be no JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn in this one.
“There’s a way I want that position to operate, and it’s going to operate the way I want it to operate,” Kelly said. “If you operate it the way I want it done, you’ll be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.”