Jan 7th, ABC
Ohio State (9-2) v Notre Dame (9-2)
This is the clash of the 9-2's Bowl
Other than the Rose Bowl, this is one of the more interesting bowls, and my last BCS bowl to analyze. (Don't worry, sports fans, there are plenty of other bowls for the Archer to comment on.) Ohio State under headcoach Jim Tressel is a defensive powerhouse. Notre Dame this year is everyone's surprise. Charlie Weis, former Offensive coordinator for the Superbowl Patriots, has done much more with Notre Dame in a year than anyone expected, making it all the way to the BCS.
Its interesting that both Notre Dame and OSU both got a shot at one of the two teams playing for the whole can of cheese whiz this year in the Rose bowl. Ohio State played Texas early on and was very dominant, leading for most of the second half, but finally just ran out of gas at the very end (22-25). Both teams in that game played like it was a bowl game on the line, which in essense it was for Texas. Ohio State was also later upset by surprising Big Ten champ Penn State, but did pull off wins with Michigan State and @Michigan.
Notre Dame got defending champ USC at home midway through the season, and somehow, despite doing everything right, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a last gasp dive into the endzone by USC, to lose 31-34. I remember watching that game with some ND fans, and I thought I was going to have to call 911 to resuscitate them. Notre Dame's other loss was a shootout @Michigan State, which was one of those games that whoever had the ball last would win. Also, wins against mediocre Michigan and horribly underachieving Tennessee.
That said, let's get into the analysis...
Offensive Production: Notre Dame's head coach is obviously an offensive wizard, winning superbowls for New England. ND averages 497.4 yards a game for 10th in NCAA, 342.5 passing yards and QB efficiency for 4th, and is 6th in total points scored. OSU is 28th on points scored, and 29th in overall rushing yards, but is ranked 6th in QB pass efficiency, believe it or not. Advantage: Notre Dame
Defensive Production: OSU has the decided advantage here, as they are a defensive power. Ohio State is number one in run defense. The Buckeyes have some of the best linebackers in the country and give up just 74 yards a game. Ohio State is going to mix up its defense, of course, but the priority has to be stopping the pass, which means six defenders in the box against the run. This should allow ND's runner to go wild. Ohio State has intercepted just six passes and allowed opponents to complete 60 percent of their passes. As woeful as Tennessee was this year, their defense played incredibly well, and gave Notre Dame fits until the end. Ohio State has intercepted just six passes and allowed opponents to complete 60 percent of their passes, but if the coaches are smart will look at Tennessee game film. But with their overwhelming talent on defense, Advantage: Ohio State
Overall talent: Ohio State has had good recruiting, especially defensively, since winning the national championship a while back. Ohio State had five players named to the All-Big Ten first-team defense. Notre Dame is Notre Dame, and with Charlie Weis on board had a good but not great recruiting last year. ND has made the most of its talent though. Advantage: Slight Ohio State
Special Teams: Both have pretty reliable place kickers, with the Ohio State kicker having a bit more practice in tight game situations (ranked 6 in points scored of kicking). ND has punted a kick for 48 yards, the most of any team this season, and one punt return for 25. OSU has returned 15 kicks for 29 yards or more. Both have respectable special teams, but OSU focuses a bit more on it. Advantage: Slight Ohio State
Intangibles: The old saying goes, "Offense wins games, defense wins championships." This is offense versus defense, if no real championship. Although being border rivals, this one would do well for bragging rights come recruiting time. Notre Dame, if they could win this game, might very well start next season at or near the top of the polls. Coming off a month off, ND's high scoring offense will have some trouble adjusting to OSU's defense. ND runs a lot of timing plays that I think OSU's D will really put a crimp into their monkey works. Advantage: Even Money