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tBBC Wednesday Night Rumble: BEAT NOTRE DAME

Jason Long

Wednesday Night Rumble: BEAT NOTRE DAME
Jason Long
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday season and it has treated you well. Please continue to be safe!

Like most of us in Buckeye Nation, my guess is that you’ve been watching some bowl games and counting down the hours until kickoff in the desert for the 2016 Fiesta Bowl featuring our beloved Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

While it obviously isn’t the College Football Playoff game that we all wanted, this one is massively important and a huge game for the Ohio State football program. We’ll dive into it and more, it’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!

Look up “arrogant” in the dictionary and this pops up

Irish Eyes need blackened

Chances are that if you’re a tried and true, die-hard Buckeye fan with scarlet and grey pulsing through your veins, you have absolutely no love for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program or (maybe especially) their fans. Let’s be honest: I know TTUN fans can be mouthy and the hicks down south have their attitudes, but is there a more arrogant group than the green and gold Domer fans? Likely not.

And what have they to be arrogant about? Their last national championship was sometime long before their current roster was even born. In their last sniff at a title they had a catfished linebacker (don’t tell me you already forgot about Manti Teo’s “girlfriend”) and wound up getting plowed in humiliating fashion by Alabama. Aside from that debacle, they continually get beat in big games against quality opponents. They lost to Clemson this year. They couldn’t beat Florida State last year. On and on.

I know their history is amazing and should be celebrated and is something to be proud of, but how does that translate to anything in this current day and age? What have you done for me lately, ND? And let me remind you that Paul Hornung and Joe Montana aren’t walking through the door any time soon.

LET’S GO… and play teams in the ACC that we can beat!!

Chicken Little and the ACC

let me get started on the “independent/ACC” contract that Notre Dame signed. I can’t think of a situation that reeked of fear and entitlement more than their move to pseudo join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In case you forgot or somehow haven’t heard, the Irish entered into an agreement in 2014 that essentially allows them to play a quasi, abbreviated ACC football schedule (this is how their game with Clemson this season came to be. You didn’t actually think they would willingly schedule a road game in Death Valley, did you?) which gives them conference affiliation money but allows them to remain an independent and not be tied to the league as a full-fledged member would. True, they disallow themselves to be crowned ACC champions, but they get all the benefits (money) of playing in the league without permitting the ACC to boast that Notre Dame is a part of their league, thus keeping their precious independent status.

Meanwhile, back in the Midwest, you know, where Notre Dame is located, it’s no secret that for years and years the Big Ten has courted the Irish to join the conference. They would bring big money and eyes to the league and as well be a geographical fit with their northern Indiana almost Chicago location. They previously had yearly matchups with Michigan State and TTUN along with Purdue and a rotation of some of the other lesser powers in the B1G.

Assuming Notre Dame would be placed in the Big Ten West, for some odd reason the thought of a schedule that would see them play games yearly against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and a rotation of two of the teams from the Big Ten East along with buckets upon truckloads of money from the Big Ten Network, just isn’t that appealing to the Irish administration. I can’t quite figure out what the drawback could be. It certainly wouldn’t be that they may not be able to compete and would likely lose 3-4 games a season in the league because, after all is said and done, this IS the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish we’re speaking of, so, what could it be? (insert sarcasm font)

Had to.

The money to join the Big Ten is massively greater. As I said, it’s a geographical fit. The games would be huge ratings earners on television. The bottom line is these people want no part of playing Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, TTUN, Michigan State, Penn State and of course Ohio State on a yearly basis. I’m sure the university and Irish fans have a much more political or prepared reason for not wanting to join the Big Ten. But at this point, and especially after seeing them make a deal with the ACC, the underlying real reason is obvious.


As you may or may not know, I’m not one of these guys who digs deep in to recruiting. For me, they’re high school kids and it’s really a crapshoot as to how they will pan out. If a coaching staff is developing their players properly, the star ratings on these young men mean very little. A perfect example is Brady Hoke when he stomped along the sidelines at TTUN. He continually brought in impressive recruiting hauls as it pertained to rankings, but was unable to develop most of them into the talents they expected them to become. Ultimately it cost him his job. Conversely at Ohio State, Urban Meyer’s staff have taken 2 star products like Darron Lee and JT Barrett and made them household names.

So while I don’t put too much thought or worry into who the Buckeyes recruit, there are some players that are just too darned talented to pass up on. And one thing that Urban Meyer and his staff do not want to face while competing for the services of these young adults is walking in to Ohio high school living rooms and being told that Irish head coach Brian Kelly had just left and was reminding them how his team beat Ohio State on New Year’s Day. In fact, this reason alone probably has Meyer thinking about how much he would like to run the score up. At least it would for me.

Troy Smith launched his 2006 Heisman campaign against the Irish in the 06 Fiesta Bowl

Real history

Friday will mark just the fourth time in my life (and I’m sure most of yours) that the Buckeyes and the Irish have met on the gridiron.

In 1935 and 1936 the two met for a home/home series that saw the Irish win both games by scores of 18-13 in ’35 at Ohio Stadium and 7-2 in ’36 in South Bend. Since then the head to head matchups have been dominated by the Buckeyes.

In 1995 the Buckeyes lit up the Irish 45-26 in front of a then stadium record crowd at The Shoe and in 1996 they went to South Bend and put the wood to the Domers 29-16.

The most recent matchup launched Troy Smith’s 2006 Heisman campaign as the Buckeyes ripped the Irish 34-20 in Tempe, Arizona in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. This game was nowhere near as close the 14 point margin of victory would indicate. Lest you forget, Jim Tressel was the Buckeyes head coach then and winning by 14 was like any other coach winning by 35. This game burns Irish fans because they came in with a Heisman contender of their own in Brady Quinn and what they thought was a team ready to take the a big step back in to the national spotlight. Oops.

And now, 10 years later, here they are again trying to prove to the masses that they are a program that can ultimately qualify for the playoff and bring home the championship trophy one day in the near future. They’re trying to prove that they’ve learned from the embarrassment to Alabama in 2012’s title game and are ready to make a bold statement. But are they?

The key to beating Notre Dame in one picture

How’s it going to go?

I’m sure you’ve been discussing it. You’ve been breaking it down and talking to your uncles at Christmas dinner about how the Buckeyes can win this game.

For me, as it typically does, this game comes down to the trenches. Can the Ohio State offensive line push around the Irish defensive line and will the Buckeyes defensive front confuse and stymie the Irish offensive line? The game will be won and lost in those battles, make no mistake about it.

Notre Dame brings a capable quarterback and some solid weapons surrounding him. But if he has no time to throw and the Buckeye defensive line is consistently moving the line of scrimmage back a yard or two on the snap, it won’t matter. Also, I wouldn’t get carried away with the “weapons” the Irish are bringing. CJ Prosise (running back) and Will Fuller (wide receiver) are excellent players but they aren’t exactly the caliber of Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Amare Cooper. Quarterback Deshone Kizer won’t be compared by anyone to Marcus Mariota. The Buckeyes have shown the ability to shut down players of a much higher quality when challenged.

Yes, I know, that was last year. What’s your point? Is this not essentially the same defensive players minus a few?

Being challenged, that is where my concern lies. Motivation.

One would think that playing Notre Dame on New Year’s Day in a game the whole country will be waking up to see would provide incentive to play as hard as possible in and of itself. Proving that you belonged in the playoffs, despite the misstep against Michigan State, should be a huge motivating factor. The senior class leaving Ohio State with 50 wins should be incentive to demand victory. Juniors headed to the NFL (I’m looking at you, 15) should be wanting to ball to the max for draft positions and to leave one last impression on Buckeye Nation.

Will NFL-bound players like Joey Bosa leave it all on the field or mail it in?

All of these are excellent reasons to go out to Arizona with bad intentions for the Irish. But, we’ve seen these guys sleep walk through games before and only realize it when it’s too late. That said, the response in Ann Arbor after the gut wrenching loss to Michigan State gives me hope and a feeling that this group has in a sense learned their lesson. I’m just being honest when I say that if Ohio State shows up motivated and hostile with a point to prove and chip on their shoulder, they win this game handily. I truly believe that. They’re better coached and have more talent across the board.

New Years 6 and the College Football Playoff

I love the new bowl layout. I love having the big 6 bowl games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. My only complaint would be to ask why the playoff games are situated at 4 and 8 on New Year’s Eve instead of being played on New Year’s Day? After you see the lineup and the order it’s in, maybe you’ll agree.

Things kickoff at noon on New Year’s Eve with the Peach Bowl featuring Florida State against Tom Hermann’s Houston Cougars. The Cougars are a nice story, but if Florida State shows up intent on playing, they’ll win going away. If the Seminoles show up and aren’t very interested, as may happen, they’re going to get beat.

Next up is playoff game 1 in the Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Clemson. If you’re a regular reader to this column or follow my twitter page, you know I do not like Clemson. At all. In the least bit. So I’ll be rooting for Oklahoma and hoping the Youngstown guys can pull out a big win. And I honestly think they will. People forget that Clemson embarrassed Oklahoma 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl to start 2015. Pair that redemption motivation with the hugeness of wanting to advance in the playoff along with a more than capable, talented team and I think you have a Sooner squad that is ready to make some noise.

We end 2015 with Michigan State and Alabama doing battle in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. Look, I don’t care what Connor Cook did on the podium in Indianapolis, I want Sparty to win this thing. I’m not a conference pride guy, I believe to each their own and I want my rivals to lose. But when it comes to Nick Saban and Alabama, if they aren’t playing TTUN then I need to see them go down.

2016 starts out with our Buckeyes taking on the Irish. Scroll up for my take in case you skipped it. And if you did, why?

Next up is the Rose Bowl which has Iowa vs Stanford. Honestly, yawn. I like old style football as much as the next guy. I miss teams huddling. I just don’t care about either of these programs. They’re not interesting to me.

The night closes with Oklahoma State taking on Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl. Another game I could really care less about and probably won’t watch much of. I’ll pass on hearing redneck Mississippi fans chanting “SEC”.

The New Year’s Six bowls start off with a bang and fizzle out at the end. I love the idea of having these 6 games played over 2 days but the presentation order is puzzling. One could reasonably assume that if you play Houston-FSU followed by Iowa-Stanford and close with a marquee matchup of Ohio State-Notre Dame then start the next day with Ol’ Miss-Okie State and roll it in to the playoff games you hook the viewer to stay engaged all day for two days. It’s an interesting decision to say the least and from what I’ve gathered while overhearing radio chatter is that the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl have the clout and money in their contract to demand when their game is played regardless if they’re part of that year’s playoff or not. That’s a shame.

Wrap it up

I’m pulling for Sparty, but how amazing would it be to see Sparty pull a “Sparty no!” and Clemson revert back to “Clemsoning” in back to back games? Seeing Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney throw up on himself would certainly set my New Year’s Eve in the right direction!

Until next time, Go Bucks!

Metallica Track of the week

Turn this one up all the way right about 12:55 on New Year’s Day. You’ll be ready for the Irish!!

And don’t forget… Rudy was offsides.

The post Wednesday Night Rumble: BEAT NOTRE DAME appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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