Bank Blog: Buckeyes Battle Irish In Fiesta

Ohio State will take on Notre Dame on New Year's Day in the Fiesta Bowl. How will the Buckeyes attack the Fighting Irish?

- The big question this week is motivation, and that's a tricky point to try to figure out for each team. I truly feel these teams could be playing for the national championship had a few games ended differently in the final seconds. There is a lot of talent on both sides of the field.

- It's hard to believe that the Ohio State offense would be the big question mark, but even with a ton of returning starters this side of the ball played inconsistently for most of the year. Will we see the offense that sputtered against Michigan State, or the group that demolished Michigan? 

- Ohio State needs to establish Zeke Elliott between the guards. I've written that so many times over the past few years, and it still rings true today. Notre Dame can be hurt by the run, and this is the matchup that will determine how this game turns out. I have a good feeling that Zeke is going to go out in style tomorrow, and he's going to put up numbers.

- Can Ohio State throw it at all against the Irish? They might not have to if Zeke is going for 250 yards, but more than likely J.T. Barrett is going to have to hit some throws. This is not just not an area Ohio State succeeds at, so Barrett's throwing is important. Is there any chance Cardale Jones makes an appearance and leads the Buckeyes down the field? You never know.

- On the defensive side of the football, this will be Ohio State's biggest challenge this season. Notre Dame can run it and throw it equally as well, and they have a lot of playmakers on this side of the football. The worry is Ohio State's defensive tackles, and can they hold up against the Irish O-line and runningbacks? If the Irish can control the football on the ground, Ohio State could be in trouble. Need Michael Hill, Joel Hale, Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle to be a lot better than they have been all season to date.

- If Notre Dame can establish the run, and throw when they want to, and not when they need to, Ohio State has a problem. The Buckeyes need to stop the run, and force Deshone Kizer to throw on third and long. Both teams will have the same approach offensively and defensively. 

- In terms of motivation, Urban Meyer can usually get his teams to play hard. The Buckeyes didn't play well this season consistently, but they played with effort every week. I expect a big effort, regardless of the potential NFL losses. 

- HOW WILL THE GAME BE PLAYED? The team that cannot run it will lose this game. Neither QB can carry a team passing the football. My guess is both teams can run it enough to produce an old-time, defensive football game. I see both defenses playing well, so I think it's a low scoring game. In the end, I think Zeke makes one more play than the Irish, and Ohio State pulls one out at the end. 

- THE PREDICTION: OHIO STATE 24  NOTRE DAME 20. 


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