After winning the inaugural College Football Playoff last year, the Buckeyes were hoping to make history again by becoming the first team to win it back-to-back. November's loss to Michigan State may have kept us out, but that doesn't mean the season is a wash. Finishing at No. 7 in the rankings, the Buckeyes have made the trip out to Arizona for the first time since 2009 to compete in the Fiesta Bowl. While the sponsor may have changed, the opponent is a familiar face: the University of Notre Dame.
The Buckeyes won that last meeting 34-20, bringing our overall record against the Irish to 3-2. For two teams with so much history in college football—the two teams combine for 19 national championships, 38 bowl wins, 14 Heisman trophies, and over 1,750 overall wins—our paths have crossed quite infrequently. The Irish won the first two meetings in 1935 and '36, and the Buckeyes tied the series up with wins in 1995 and '96. When we met the Irish again (and won), it was in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
For the Buckeyes, a lot will be different next season. This will be the last game for a senior class that includes players like Braxton Miller, Cam Williams, and Joshua Perry. (Senior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt will miss the game due to a broken foot, while senior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington has been suspended.) With other big names likely headed to the pros, the scarlet and gray could look pretty different come fall, which is all the more reason to finish strong. (If anyone is still disappointed about our bowl fate, just think: If it's good enough for AJ Hawk, then it's probably not that bad.)
I was lucky enough to play in 3 Fiesta Bowls and win all of them. Looking forward to watching this rematch! pic.twitter.com/3IHyM5RoT3— AJ Hawk (@OfficialAJHawk) December 7, 2015
The Buckeyes are coming off a strong win against Michigan, where six trips to the end zone led to a glorious 42-13 win. Barrett averaged over 7 yards per play both on the ground and in the air and over 325 yards of total offense, while Zeke rushed for 214 yards, earning himself the No. 2 spot on Ohio State's list of career rushing yards. (The top spot belongs to a young RB by the name of Archie Griffin.) The defense held the Michigan offense to 57 total rushing yards and, while it gave up over 300 yards of passing offense, it only allowed the Wolverines into the end zone once.
The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, are coming off a close loss to Stanford that very same weekend when we won. Notre Dame put up 234 passing yards and 299 rushing yards in their 38-36 loss. With two missing senior defensive tackles out, the Buckeye defense will have to make some serious adjustments if they want gain that fourth win over the folks from South Bend.
Join us in the comments for our Ohio State-Notre Dame GameThread! That September season opener against Bowling Green is a long way away, so don't miss out on our last chance to cheer on the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes!