Fiesta Bowl 2016: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Ohio State Buckeyes


Notre Dame will play against Ohio State on New Year’s Day in the Fiesta Bowl.

Many Notre Dame fans believed that December 6 would be a great day of celebration. However, following close losses to top-ranked Clemson and a top-10 Stanford team by a combined four points, Notre Dame was left out of the second annual College Football Playoff.

With Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma playing for the National Championship, the Irish will play in the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl, one of the New Year’s Six Bowls. The game begins at 1 p.m. on January.

The Buckeyes finished the regular season with an 11-1 record. Their only loss came to No. 3 Michigan State on a game-winning Spartan field goal. Ohio State rebounded the following week against Michigan, thumping the Wolverines 42-13.

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This contest has some great storylines. Urban Meyer coached at Notre Dame from 1996 to 2000. He flirted with the open Head Coaching position in 2005 and, to a lesser extent, in 2009. Although these team rarely meet, their fates are intertwined due to recruiting battles in the midwest.

The matchup between the Buckeyes and Irish will feature several interesting individual matchups. The biggest will be a battle between potential top-five NFL selections, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa and Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Notre Dame Linebacker Jaylon Smith may be called upon to contain Ohio State running back and former Irish recruit Ezekiel Elliott.

The last time the Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes played, Ohio State defeated Notre Dame, 34-20. Ohio State has won three of the five matchups. Notre Dame won both games in 1935 and 1936. The Buckeyes landed wins in 1995, 1996 and 2006. It is interesting how little these two teams have played.

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The two schools recently signed an agreement for a home-and-home football series in 2022 and 2023. Notre Dame will travel to Columbus on September 3, 2022 and Ohio State will venture to South Bend on September 23, 2023.

Who wins this contest? It really depends on which Ohio State team shows up in Arizona. When the Buckeyes have played to their potential, they are virtually unstoppable. How Urban Meyer motivates his team will probably decide who wins this game. Notre Dame will be extremely motivated after a disappointing loss to Stanford.

The Fighting Irish have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are one of the best and most talented teams in the nation. Notre Dame played well on the biggest stages this season but failed to close out games.

What was the best victory for the Irish this season? USC? Temple? Navy?  These two teams finished ranked 25th, 24th and 21st in the final rankings. Although those are decent victories, they do not compare to a triumph over the defending National Champs.

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A win against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl could make the 2015 a tremendous success instead of a huge disappointment. The Buckeyes may be the most talented team in the country.

Keep in mind that Notre Dame has not won a major bowl game since 1994 when the Irish defeated the Texas A&M Aggies in the Cotton Bowl.