(UHND.com) — A little over a year after Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham creating a media frenzy, the Irish accepted a bid to play in the Fiesta Bowl capping off a whirl wind year in a manner that many thought was not possible 12 months ago.
Coming off a less than spectacular performance in the Insight.com Bowl and dealing with a media firestorm over the controversial firing of Tyrone Willingham, most Irish fans thought a BCS Bowl was a pipe dream even after Charlie Weis was hired and spoke of raising expectations.
Weis and Notre Dame however surprised a lot of people this year however and have landed in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Big 10 Co-Champion Ohio State.
Where or not the Irish deserve to be in the Fiesta Bowl was debated up until the bowl announcements and the debate is still going on in many Oregon chat rooms and message boards. At #6 in the final BCS Standings however, the point was moot as the Irish were automatic qualifiers.
Still, Oregon fans continue to moan and complain over the “injustice” of a 1 loss team that lost by 32 points at home and beat such powerhouses as Montana and Houston getting overlooked while Ohio State and Notre Dame both were automatic qualifiers with two losses.
The latest controversy is just adds the drama that has surrounded the Notre Dame football team since its November 30th, 2004 decision to fire Willingham after two consecutive dreadful seasons.
Meanwhile, the games the Irish played had about as much drama as the off field distractions this year with an overtime home loss to Michigan State after a 21 point comeback fell short. Then there was the “Game of the Year” against USC which saw the Irish come inches short of ending the Trojan’s winning streak.
Throw into the mix a comeback with less than two minutes remaining against Stanford to end the season and you have yourself a heck of a season.
The season is far from over for Notre Dame however. There is plenty left for the Irish to do and a win over Ohio State is first on the agenda for Weis and his team. Ohio State poses the most challenging test for the Irish this year with one of the best defenses in the nation and some explosive offensive weapons.
UHND.com will have plenty of features on the Fiesta Bowl leading up to the January 2nd game in Tempe including a look at some past Notre Dame-Ohio state games and some in depth analysis of the Buckeyes team.