OSU Buckeyes look to dampen Irish eyesWritten by Dave Woolford | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two football teams with two losses each both wish they could have their one most disparaging defeat back.
If that were the case, Ohio State and Notre Dame might be been playing for the national championship in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 instead of meeting in the Fiesta Bowl two days earlier.
Top-ranked Southern Cal will meet No. 2 Texas for the national title, as it should be but almost wasn’t. While both are unbeaten, they each were on the verge of losing earlier this season, the Trojans to Notre Dame and Texas at the hands of the Buckeyes.
Fans rushed onto the field at Notre Dame when USC quarterback Matt Leinart dove for the endzone on a second-and-goal situation with seven seconds remaining and got stopped at the one with no time outs remaining.
But Leinart had fumbled the ball out of bounds giving the Trojans one more attempt. With his coaches yelling for him to spike the ball when he got to the line of scrimmage, Leinart twisted and turned his way into the endzone to score with three seconds remaining and gave USC a 34-31 triumph.
The Buckeyes were leading Texas before the Longhorns scored a touchdown to pull ahead 23-22 with 2:37 left in the game. The Bucks had to settle for a Josh Huston field goal, a record-tying fifth by Huston, on their last scoring possession after a touchdown pass was dropped in the endzone. Texas got a safety in the closing moments in its 25-22 victory.
While the Fiesta Bowl may be considered the consolation game by many, it might very well produce better competition and offer the fourth-ranked Buckeyes a chance to finish No. 2 in the country. That would be a marvelous accomplishment considering they were ranked as low as 15th in the middle of last October after losing at Penn State to fall to 3-2.
This will be the third trip in the last four years to the Valley of the Sun for Ohio State, which won the 2002 national championship in Tempe, defeating Miami in double overtime 31-24. For the Fighting Irish, Arizona has been nothing but ”Cactus Canyon.” They’ve gotten thumped in their last two post-season games there to OSU. No, not that OSU; Oregon State University.
Notre Dame hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1994 Cotton Bowl, with seven straight losses. It’s something first-year coach Charlie Weis reminds his troops of, but only during their waking hours.
The Buckeyes feature the No. 1 defense against the run and are ranked fourth in total defense, while the Fighting Irish possess the country’s fourth-best passing attack and are ranked sixth in scoring.
According to ”College Football for Idiots And Other Malcontents,” a publication that hasn’t reached local bookshelves yet, the Buckeyes must attempt to control the ball and keep it out of the hands of Brady Quinn, OSU star linebacker A. J. Hawk’s future brother-in-law.
That relationship might be a bit overstated at this point, but the Notre Dame quarterback’s oldest sister, Laura, is dating Hawk, projected to be a top first-round pick.
Quinn, who grew up in suburban Columbus and prepped at Dublin Coffman, finished the regular season ranked fourth in the country in passing efficiency. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,633 yards and 32 touchdowns, all single-season records at Notre Dame.
But the Irish haven’t seen a defense to match that of Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ resurgent offense will offer significant problems for an Irish defense that yields 257.5 yards per game to rank 99th nationally in that category.
The Buckeyes have plenty of defense and just enough offense to keep Irish eyes from smiling once again in the postseason.