Notre Dame to Face Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl

Notre Dame might not have made the 2015 College Football Playoffs, but they will still be playing in one of the most highly anticipated post season games of the year after being slated against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1 at 1:00 PM ET.

Notre Dame (10-2) and Ohio State (11-1) both spent much of the college football season firmly in the top 4 of the CFP Rankings but a late season loss to Michigan knocked the Buckeyes out of the mix while the Irish clung to life for another week before the season finale loss to Stanford eliminated them from contention.

Ohio State, the defending national champion, has had an unremarkable season as the defending champ up until their season finale romp of Michigan.  Prior to that contest Ohio State had not been overly impressive even as they built a 10-0 record before losing to Michigan State a few weeks ago.  That loss knocked Ohio State out of the mix because of their lack of quality wins and propelled the Spartans into the Big 10 Championship and eventually the College Football Playoffs after they took care of Iowa last night.

Notre Dame meanwhile held the #4 spot in the playoffs for a few weeks before falling out of the 4 following an impressive performance against Boston College in Fenway Park in the Shamrock Series before tumbling to #8 in the CFP Rankings after the loss to Stanford.  The conference championship weekend didn’t do anything to improve Notre Dame rankings as they held steady at #8.

Notre Dame and Ohio State have not met since 2005 when the Buckeyes won a rather one-sided but closer than it appeared contest in the same Fiesta Bowl.  Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, and Darius Walker tried to keep the Irish in the contest, but the Notre Dame defense had no answer for Troy Smith and the Buckeye offense – a situation that sounds eerily familiar with Notre Dame coming into the game with a high powered offense and a lot of questions on the defensive side of the ball.

This year sophomore Deshone Kizer will lead the high powered Notre Dame offense into Tempe to take on the 7th ranked Buckeyes coached by Urban Meyer – a coach with whom there is no love loss between Notre Dame fans after Urban spurred the Irish over a decade ago to coach Florida.

Meyer’s Buckeyes have had quarterback issues this year as they have bounced back and forth between Cardalle Jones and JT Barrett.  Ohio State faced some off the field drama as well following their loss to Michigan State when star running back Ezekiel Elliot threw the Ohio State coaching staff under the bus for their playcalling after he didn’t receive many carries in the lone Buckeye loss of the season.

Notre Dame and Ohio State might have both had playoff aspirations fall short, but the two will be playing in perhaps the marquee non-playoff bowl matchup.  Two traditional powers.  Two fan bases that travel well.  Two teams featuring elite college coaches.  This is the type of game that will sell itself even though both fan bases are rightfully likely disappointed in missing the playoffs.

We will have plenty more on this matchup and how well the Irish do or don’t match up with the Buckeyes and what they will need to do in order to end the season on a high note.

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  1. Can ND beat OS. No question, they can. Will they? Good question! if ND does not turn the ball over, they will most certainly win. It should be a game in the mid to high 20s, maybe 28-24 ND. NDs defense has looked horrible at times and cannot afford to have those lapses. Ohio States schedule was weak, plain and simple, and I don’t think that will help them against a solid ND team. Neither team can afford to start slow and after such a long time off, that could be the thing that affects the game most. Go Irish!

  2. Meyer’s teams have always been super prepared given more than two weeks to prepare. OSU beat a superior Alabama team last year in the playoffs. where both offensive and defensive lines dominated the Crimson Tide.
    Since Holtz, we have NOT had a consistent running game and scoring TDs inside the red zone have become luxury
    I think that OSU will be a lot better prepared than the Kelly led Irish. Hope I am wrong
    GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. @ George…(Bundy) thanks , i stand corrected. Was just trying to make the name fit. How’s this…
    RON BU—NDY. You remember Bud’s wisecracking…I’m thinking he’s been resurrected in these posts.

  4. I could care less about Ohio State and their stats. What worries me is our defense not being sble to slow down their offense. We made some average offenses look good this year.

  5. People talk about Ohio State’s defense and offense statistics..If Notre Dame would have had a lame schedule like theirs no telling what our stats would be. Here’s a stat for you they are 1-1 against ranked teams, whoopee big deal and that’s as defending national champs. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if ND plays error free football i.e. no turnovers. that they win by 10.

  6. We’ve got several weeks to come prepared. BK, AND BVG will come eating nails. We’ll have multiple starters back. I’ll be glued and sitting on the edge of my seat. Notre Dame our Mother! Go Irish Go!!

  7. @ Run (burr) Gundy…btw, any relation to the Gundy’s “Married w/Children?”. Could explain your losing record. PS you’re on the wrong side of this one also… PPS, what’s the spread?

  8. With the parity evident among the top teams, whichever playmakers haul in (or break up) a key pass or which team misses fewer tackles or assignments or blocks will be the winner.
    How’s that for expert analysis?
    But tOSU can be limited when you take away their run game- not so easy- but necessary.
    ND won’t be surprised when OSU tries to establish the run- it’s what they do.
    MSU defeated them by selling out to stop the run, and MSU didn’t even have their 5th year QB Cook playing. I watched Ohio State a few other times this year and they’d go quarters without attempting a forward pass- either gave it to Eliot (not a bad idea with his talent and OL) or a QB keeper. Their lines are very good, and, like most games, line play will also determine whether this game is won or lost.
    (More expert analysis). You’re welcome.

    But even in their two losses, ND displayed it has the talent and heart to compete with anyone this season.
    The only team OSU played this season with comparable talent to ND was MSU, and we all recall how that turned out for them. So here’s one fan who will not have a plan B for the second half on New Year’s Day.

    How each team maximizes its extra prep time will be key. And that’s not just on the players.

    Go Irish!

  9. @ baetha breath…don’t ya just hate those phonies who want nuthing but a NC?

    Wow, you played this game? I coudda told that from all those ‘FB terms’ ya used. I’m impressed with your “marquee matchup”, “inside zone read offenses”, “second level off the double team”, “tailback adjustment”, “quick 3 technique” and “pass to the run” (that one really got me). Maybe someday ya’all enlighten us. Maybe write a whole article. Me? I’m just content to yell at the screen when one of our guys misses a tackle, or is out of position on a pass play. MSU? Did we play MSU this year? Musta missed it.

    Schmidt? Is that the guy who is so great at those ping-pong throwing games. Yeah, last SHO I saw him use his head for the first time all season. Did you put Schmidt and quick in the same sentence? Now there’s creativity. Walk on, he’s taking that a little too literally. Someone tell him to “run”, please.

    BVG, “hugely talented”? Man that’s a stretch. Wish he’d impart some of that knowledge to his D Backs. Now, there’s a hugely untalented group, but then again they are responsible to back up Joe Rudy when he’s outta position on all those running plays. Or maybe BVG can’t teach? I dunno…

    With all your ruminations, I see nothin’ but ifs and hope, but no real commitment of the final score. Could that be the reason you can’t remember your prediction of last year’s LSU game?

  10. When “GOOD” Ohio State shows up they are hard to beat. When uninterested Ohio State shows up they are mediocre at best. How interested will the players be with a 3 week layoff, NFL draft/combine looming? Some players are about to choose agents. Some are about to drop out of school. I don’t think this Ohio State team had the laser focus of last year. ND comes in with the ability to score with anybody and the inability to stop anybody. Can BVG orchestrate a scheme to be competitive? Can’t wait to see it all play out.

  11. If the Irish finally bring their “A” game in all phases, they can beat Ohio State. That is the question – will they bring their “A” game or will they bring their “Lame” game?

  12. Well…Shouldn’t we all start off with the douchebags that like to carry on with the “NC or Nothing”/”exhibition game” bullshit. Outside of the obvious disrespect to a great football team, coaching staff, and lucid fan base; does it feel like an exhibition game now? Does this game not matter to future recruiting? To the guys on both side of the field looking at draft stock? To the actual footbal players and coaching staff that would rather pull out a tooth than lose this game?

    But, that actually get’s to the point doesn’t it. All you clowns carrying on with that ultimatum only out yourselves as guys that have never played or coached footaball at any meaningful level. You’re guys whose practical level of athletic experience is limited to checkers and a fanduel account.

    To Duranko: I can’t remember who I called on the LSU game, but I think I was more optimistic than most, and called a closer game than anticipated. I’ll leave that work to the UHND archivist to determine. Have at it Burgundy. Nonetheless…

    This is both a great, and troubling matchup for ND in my opinion. It’s a marquee matchup, that will likely draw as many viewers as either initial playoff game, including the attention of every ND recruit; nearly all of whom are also on the OSU recruiting list.

    So, the issues are that much larger. First, ND hasn’t been great against inside zone read offenses this year. They haven’t been terrible, but they’ve given up yards with consistency, especially against atletic O-line groups who can get to the second level off the double team. Both USC and Clemson had fair success with this, but Meyer is the master. Neither team had the combination of a very dangerous QB, and RB. Neither one of those teams were as good at utilizing tailback adjustment and snap count to gain advantage. And, sadly, neither were as talented at exploiting undisciplined safeties. MSU has both talented LB’s, and a strong group of DB’s. ND, does not.

    Schmidt knows the game, so can make quick 3 technique changes, but he’s also got to get the headlights out of his eyes, and get around, or off, very good second level blockers. Farley and Redfield are going to have to find a way to provide tighter coverage, or break more quickly on a ball. Something they’ve failed to do all year. Watch for Elliot and Barrett to play like millions of dollars are riding on it, and the TE/Slot to hurt from the outside in.

    Offensively, ND matches up well but for that they don’t have a bruising running back to replace Adams, who at 19, is barely bruising in the inside as it is. If, however, Kizer can have a game like his last, Kelly should be able to pass to the run. But, the redzone will still be an issue. With Kizer’s inexperience showing in the compressed field, a lack of dominant TE play, and Robinson’s unreliability…well I don’t see that improving unless Kelly & Co. can find some consistent weaknesses – or shoot from the 30 yard line.

    All that being said, I have faith in the coaching staff to have the guys ready to win a football game. Even BVG, who everyone is down on now, I think is a hugely talented DC. And, while everyone knows he doesn’t have the DB group he needs to run his desired defense; given two weeks, he’ll have some scheming to confuse Meyer, and pressure Barrett.

    Like I think I was with LSU, I saw some reasons for hope, and didn’t have it in me to project a ND loss, but had reasons for worry. I hope it ends the same way.

  13. The D will show up on new years day. Ohio state has had some trouble moving the ball all year, especially in the air, with the exception of the Michigan game. They’ve looked average against sub par teams. As for the safeties, Redfield has improved and I’ve been impressed with Shumate. Great matchup!

  14. This is simply not a good matchup for us. Getting J Jones back on the defensive line will help but our defense made average offenses look great but there is nothing average about OSU.

    Hopefully Kelly and BVG can put a gameplan together to slow down their offense. I was really hoping to get Iowa or Florida State. They were better for us IMO.

    I am not worried about this offense. I think they will show up and play but the defense needs to bring it. That side of the ball is why we don’t have a seat at the table.

  15. I’m sorry but we do not match up well against Ohio State. Mobile QB’s, lot’s of misdirection, and the ability to throw to the seams do not fit the mold set forth by the Irish D. This game will be won or lost by one position…our safeties. They play well, we win a close one. They play like we have seen all year, the Irish lose and it isn’t close.

    Kizer should be able to take advantage on the edges and down the seams as well, but we are going to need to score TD’s in bunches, and the way to do that is to NOT have to snap the ball in the red zone…big chunk plays and constant attack mode.

    Here’s to hoping…GO IRISH!

  16. We might have a few injured people back in time for the bowl. I remember thinking that we had no chance last year and at the end I realized Kelly and crew had a wonderful plan laid out. Then the players executed the plan perfectly.

  17. I was scared to death of LSU last year! I’m not scared this year. After the stanford loss I couldn’t have hoped for a better match up than this. Go Irish!

  18. The only people worth listening to on pre-bowl predictions are those who predicted Notre Dame’s win last year over LSU in Nashville.

    Anybody out there who did that?

  19. Other than making the playoffs which obviously didnt happen this is as good as it gets. This is a great match up and will be a tough test for Notre Dame. As good as any semifinals game. A win could definitely sway a couple recruits to choose ND over Ohio State. And of course it could go the other way as well but wtf were used to that scenario.

  20. Pete,
    Now is the time to have faith they will beat these buckheads. It’s Christmas season, great things can happen.

    Blue n Gold the Buckeyes

  21. Let’s go Irish. Let’s get a big game bowl win. I say this game is 50-50. Notre Dame may bring a mixed bag to the table, but so to the Buckeyes. And despite what some naysayers say, recruits who are on the fence for ND will be watching this game closely. A good game may very well push them to our side, while a loss (esp. if it’s a one sided loss) can cost us recruits. And you can’t win a NC without recruits so ND does still have something to play for (beyond just wanting to win a marquee bowl game, something that they have not done since the Holtz days. ).

  22. Ohio State should be about a 7 pt favorite and will win going away. Why? The Van Gorder defense. It’s that simple. We needed a basic Boston College defense. They line up in a basic defense and come at you. Van Gorder is the weak link in the program. Ohio State is a big play team and we give up big plays every game. This is a bad match up for us.

  23. Ohio State should be about a 7 pt favorite and will win going away. Shy? The Van Gorder defense. It’s that simple. We needed a basic Boston College defense. They line up in a basic defense and come at you. Van Gorder is the weak link in the program. Ohio State is a big play team and we give up big plays every game. This is a bad match up for us.

  24. Well, as much as I love the irish and would love for them to beat Ohio State not very confident its going to happen. I do think Notre Dame is capable of moving the ball and putting up points against Ohio State but can’t see Notre Dame’s defense being able to stop Ohio State. Hope I’m wrong.

  25. This is awesome. Go out and smack these buck faced yahoos. Forget the past encounters, that was then, this is NOW. Invent your future, Irish. Go be Fiesta Bowl champs. This is an Opportunity to behold. A great draw, for sure.

    Our beloved Irish will prevail!!

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