Michigan State popped Ohio State’s National Championship bubble last month, but the Buckeyes get a postseason jolt anyway. If you’re not going to play for the National Championship, you may as well play Notre Dame — maybe the only team north of the Mason-Dixon line that matches yours for history and pedigree. That’s what’ll happen at the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. It was a strong year for the Irish too, who finish at No. 8. So it’s a 7 v. 8 game, yes, but it’s a rich one. Both Fiesta Bowl contenders were just a whisper away from the College Football Playoff.
The teams are familiar with each other — and the atmosphere should be as energized as if they were playing for all the marbles. Notre Dame and Ohio State have faced each other just five times, including this first one in 1935 — Notre Dame over Buckeyes, 18-13. There are other ties too: Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1996 to 2000. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was once a coach at Cincinnati and knows Ohio well. The last time the Buckeyes faced off against the Irish was in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame won 34-20.