The College Football Playoff Committee has set their playoff matchups and New Years Day bowl games and one of the New Years Six is the Fiesta Bowl. The committee has announced that the 2015 Fiesta Bowl will be played between the number eight Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the number seven Ohio State Buckeyes on January 1, 2016.
This season the Fighting Irish finished 10-2 with their losses coming to the number one team in the country, the Clemson Tigers, and the number five team in the country, the Stanford Cardinal. The defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes are viewed by many to be the most overrated team in the country this season due to their poor schedule. The number seven Buckeyes lost against the only top 10 team they played, the Michigan State Spartans, but beat the number 17 Michigan Wolverines in their last game of the regular season on the way 11-1 record.
Today, Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly announced that three key Notre Dame players were cleared for practices starting Thursday for the bowl game, and a few more should be cleared prior to the first bowl game practice on Thursday. Kelly said that Jarron Jones, Durham Smythe and James Onwualu are all cleared for the first bowl practice. Jones has been out since tearing his MCL on August 16th and didn’t play all season as a result of the injury suffered in fall camp. Smythe had a bevy of injuries in the first two games of the season but was forced out of the Virginia Cavaliers game in week two due to surgery for a turn MCL. Onwaulu sprained his MCL in week 10 against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and missed the rest of the regular season with that injury. Brian Kelly also said that Keivare Russell would not be ready for the Fiesta Bowl and CJ Prosise is expected to be ready for the bowl game.
The Buckeyes have dealt with underachieving all season long, especially from the quarterback position where coming into the season was supposed to be the best part of the team. This season for the Buckeyes have had all three QBs on the roster, all of whom contributed to their national title play last season. The player that contributed most this season to Ohio State QB position was Cardale Jones who played most of the season as the starting QB but Ohio State was a better functioning football team when JT Barrett was at the helm. On Halloween this year, J.T. Barrett was arrested and charged with OVI, which means operating a vehicle under the influence and was suspended for the next game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, which Ohio State won.
According to Bill Rabinowitz, the Ohio State beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch the Buckeyes are six point favorites over the Irish at the moment but that number could change a ton of times between now and January 1st.
These two teams have played in the Fiesta Bowl before. The last time these two teams played in general was the 2006 Fiesta Bowl when the Ohio State Buckeyes took down the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by a score of 34-20. In 2004, current Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer didn't agree to become the Notre Dame Head Coach and instead went to be the Florida Gators Head Coach. There is a a story that has been around for some time that Meyer didn't become the Irish head coach because he wanted them to lower the academic standards in order to get better recruits and Notre Dame refused, so he went to Florida.