Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State Buckeyes (-6.5) versus Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Posted: January 18, 2016 in Buckeyes, College football, Football
Tags: , , , ,

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This is just the sixth all-time meeting between these two blue bloods (Ohio State leads 3-2 SU) with the last meeting in the 2005 Fiesta bowl, a 34-20 Buckeye (-4.5) win. Notre Dame has been in the post season every year under head coach Brian Kelly, going 3-2 SU/2-3 ATS, including beating LSU, 31-28 (+8) in last years Music City Bowl. Kelly was 1-2 SU/0-3 ATS in bowls as the head coach at Cincinnati. Ohio State is 2-1 SU/ATS in bowls under head coach Urban Meyer, winning both last year to become the National Champions. Prior to Ohio State, Meyer was 7-1 SU/ATS in bowls while the head coach at Florida and Utah and he was also the wide receivers coach at Notre Dame from 1996-2000.

Ohio State was expected to repeat as National Champions after returning 14 starters, including three All-American’s! The quarterback play was inconsistent as Cardale Jones and JT Barrett alternated the first seven games and the offense unexpectedly struggled (lost offensive coordinator Tom Herman to Houston). Barrett was named the starter against Rutgers, then was suspended versus Minnesota. He returned to start the last three, but struggled in a downpour in the home loss to Michigan State and workhorse running back Ezekial Elliot was underutilized. Elliot was then given a season high 30 carries in a rout over arch-rival Michigan. The Buckeye’s averaged 429 yards per game, and are No. 7 on defense in the FBS, holding their opponents to 97 yards per game less then they average.

Notre Dame returned 17 starters. Malik Zaire won the starting quarterback job, but suffered a broken ankle and was lost for the year after two games. Redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer has done a solid job in relief. Injuries were the norm for the Fighting Irish and Kelly said that nine starters were lost for the year. Notre Dame lost by two at Clemson despite a 141 yard edge as a defensive holding/pass interference was not called on their two point conversion attempt that would’ve tied the game. They then won six straight and in their regular season finale met Stanford. They lost in Palo Alto by two, allowing the game-winning 45 yard field goal with no time left after taking the lead 30 seconds earlier. They are No. 12 in the FBS, averaging 115 yards per game more then their opponents allow on average.

Notre Dame is just a couple of plays from being undefeated and are 5-1 ATS against bowl teams, outgaining them by 78 yards per game, while Ohio State is 3-5 ATS, but outgained their bowl opponents by 98 yards per game. Urban Meyer is arguably the best big game coach in the nation as he is 9-2 in bowls with three National Titles. The Buckeyes could be in a letdown spot as they expected to be in the playoffs, while Notre Dame is 3-0 as a ‘dog this year. Ohio State is the more talented team and this should be a high scoring game.

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