Ohio State vs Notre Dame Preview

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.

Ohio State Vs. Penn State Preview

The Buckeyes enter the game against division rival Penn State undefeated and still clinging to the number one ranking by a slim margin. The two quarterback system yielded much success against Maryland last Saturday. J.T. Barret looked masterful in the red zone, but will the Buckeyes deploy the same strategy against the Nittany Lions (5-1 Overall, 2-0 Conference). The Buckeye offense scored on all six trips to the red zone against the Terrapins. On Monday, Coach Urban Meyer confirmed Cardale Jones is still the starter until proved otherwise. However, the Buckeyes will be unveiling something new when the take the field on Saturday. Perhaps taking a page out of Penn State’s “white out” book, Ohio State will sporting all black jerseys in an attempt to “black out” the Horseshoe.

The Nittany Lions lone loss was to Temple in the season opener, a debacle which led to 10 sacks of quarterback and potential top 10 NFL Draft pick, Christian Hackenberg. Ohio State will look to get pressure of the edge with NFL bound ends Joey Bosa and Aldophus Washington. Since the Temple game, Hackenberg has taken 9 sacks and hasn’t played the best of football. He has only thrown for over 60% once this season. The offense has run through the ground game, running back Akeel Lynch  has looked impressive at times but is questionable for this Saturday. If ready he can make a big impact since it is no secret the Buckeyes have struggled against the run this season. The good news is that OSU will be able to pin their ears back in passing situations and not have worry about a scrambling quarterback (something they struggled with last week).

Ohio State tailback Ezekiel Elliot looks primed to continue his streak of 100 yard rushing performances against Penn State’s 38th ranked run defense, which only surrenders 117 yards per game. Elliot will have to rely on his offensive line to find holes and take the pressure off Cardale Jones.

Ultimately this game comes down to whether Ohio State gets hot early or spins the wheels. If the Buckeyes score as efficiently as they did last week, the Nittany Lions will be in trouble. My prediction for the game: Ohio State 45 Penn State 17.

-Q

Note: All Stats via ESPN.com