Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview
BATTLEFROG FIESTA BOWL
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl game preview featuring Ohio State against Notre Dame. Another close scoring game… Notre Dame will go down to Ohio State… who will be victorious 28-27. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com.
Ohio State ranked No. 7 and No. 8 Notre Dame were each only a few plays away from clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff but instead will have to be content with a New Year’s Six Bowl when they square off in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 1. The defending-champion Buckeyes were in the top four until a 17-14 home loss to Michigan State in the penultimate game of the regular season knocked them out of a spot in the Big Ten title game. The Fighting Irish spent a week in the top four as well but dropped after closing the campaign with a 38-36 setback at Stanford.
Notre Dame’s explosive offense averaged 34.8 points – 31st in the nation – despite making a change at quarterback and losing top rusher C.J. Prosise down the stretch. Prosise (ankle) could be back for the bowl game but will be going against an Ohio State defense that finished second in the nation while allowing opponents an average of 14 points. Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash is set to leave to take the head coaching job at Rutgers after the bowl game, but former NFL and college head coach Greg Schiano was brought in to ease the transition and will serve as the co-defensive coordinator moving forward.
The Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes both switched quarterbacks during the season, though Notre Dame’s change was injury related. Malik Zaire went down in the second game of the season at Virginia and sophomore DeShone Kizer stepped in to throw for 2,600 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding nine scores on the ground. Ohio State went back and forth between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett before settling on Barrett, who will get the starting nod in the Fiesta Bowl.
NOTRE DAME Season Overview (10-2): The Fighting Irish suffered their two losses by a total of four points on the road at No. 1 Clemson and No. 6 Stanford. “Our scout teams have done a great job all year,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters. “We’re going to lean on them again one more time to provide us with the kind of look necessary to prepare our defense. But no, we know the challenge that Ohio State brings, and we’re going to have to do a great job of preparing our defense.” That defense allowed an average of 22.4 points in the regular season and was at its best against the pass, limiting opponents to 195.9 yards through the air.
OHIO STATE Season Overview (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten): Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 1,672 yards and 19 touchdowns but was critical of his usage after logging just 33 yards on 12 carries in the lone loss to Michigan State. Elliott bounced back with 214 yards and two scores the following week and figures to be a big part of the offense in the bowl game. Elliott is one of several Ohio State stars, including Jones and presumptive top-5 pick defensive lineman Joey Bosa, who could be headed for the NFL draft in the spring.