OSU WILL CRUISE TO A THIRD FIESTA BOWL WIN
I haven't played up the hype of the Ohio State - Notre Dame matchup in the Fiesta Bowl because I haven't had to. If you've turned on any televised sports broadcast in Ohio over the past month, you've witnessed the buildup. Let me cut right to the chase and tell you how I see things turning out tomorrow at 5.
Notre Dame is good again. Charlie Weis has worked wonders with this team, and I'm with the experts when I talk about how good the Irish offense is. Quarterback Brady Quinn, a Dublin Coffman product, is the second-best passing quarterback in the nation (second to USC's Matt Leinart) and he's got a myriad of weapons at receiver and tight end.
However, Ohio State has got, in my opinion, just as good of an offense when it's clicking on all cylinders. Ohio State's defense is head and shoulders above Notre Dame's. I realize they allowed 21 Michigan points against Chad Henne who isn't as good as Quinn, but with a rested, rejuvenated unit, I see them getting more of a pass rush and, thus, forcing turnovers.
Here are the keys to the game for both teams:
1. Win the turnover and special teams war.
2. Establish the run. (This won't be easy against the Buckeyes.)
3. Keep one guy on defense always spying on Troy Smith.
1. Make Brady beat you. (Quinn can't win it by himself. Get good coverage on his receivers.)
2. Allow Troy Smith to play his game. (Smith made a believer out of me after the Michigan game. Give him some carries and roll him out of the pocket to take some shots downfield.)
3. Put together some long drives. (The Irish can't score if they don't have the ball.)
Prediction: Everyone sees this as a tight matchup. I disagree. Ohio State will take an early lead, and the Buckeye defense will make an early statement with a big play. I don't normally predict blowouts, but I will take Ohio State 31-7.
Make sure to read my post-game thoughts sometime on Tuesday.