We all know that New Years Day is one filled with painful hangovers and great college football. This year is no exception as two of the best teams not in the playoffs face of in Arizona.
Number 7 Ohio State and Number 8 Notre Dame will showdown in the desert in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, exactly ten years to the date since both teams stepped on the same field. A lot has changed since then, both have changed coaches (Ohio State did twice) and made appearances in the Championship game. One thing is certain, we won’t see Laura Quinn with the infamous split jersey this time.
Both teams bolster a high-powered spread offense which will be looking to solve their equally talented defensive counterparts. Both teams are stacked with NFL level talent and the programs will likely produce a slew of first round draft picks like Joey Bosa and Ronnie Stanley come April.
Notre Dame Quarterback Deshone Kizer (an Ohio bred athlete) may have been one of the best stories in college football this season, taking over the for the injured Malik Zaire early in the season. Behind his 2600 passing yards and 19 TDs, Kizer led the Irish to a 10-2 record. Both losses were heartbreakers as the Fighting Irish lost by two points to both Clemson and Stanford.
It will be interesting to see what type of gameplan Coach Brian Kelly will employ to combat the vicious front seven of the Buckeyes. Ohio State Defensive End Joey Bosa is someone whose impact goes deeper than the box score. Bosa has drawn the double team for much of the season and may not get the sacks and tackle for loss stats that he’s accustomed to. He has made up for it this year by disrupting the quarterback’s rhythm, adding knockdowns and QB hurries to his stat sheet. Kizer will have to look to alleviate some of the pressure by utilizing screens and draws often.
After coming off the best game the Buckeyes have played all season, a 42-13 rout of arch rival Michigan. The Buckeyes look to have finally woken up from their offensive doldrums. Urban Meyer will most likely give Quarterback J.T. Barrett and Tailback Ezekiel Elliot a similar style of gameplan to oust their border state foes . I expect to see an increased amount of passes from Barrett, who hasn’t had the type of season he had last year as a freshman.
Kelly said earlier this month that he feels the Irish are facing the best team in country and have prepared as such. Of course it is normal to talk up an opponents overall performance Meyer had similar words for the Irish, saying great things about their front seven led by linebacker Jaylon Smith. This game has every bit of potential to come down to wire much likely Notre Dame’s losses did and OSU’s lone loss against Michigan State.
Final Score: 31-28 Ohio State. In the end, Elliot and the Buckeyes are able to make just one more big play than the Fighting Irish as the Senior Class of the Buckeyes notch a record 50th win on the big stage.