Dec. 31, 2015
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - By John Heisler
Here’s what University of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and his Ohio State University counterpart, Urban Meyer, will be dreaming about late tonight as the calendar flips from 2015 to 2016—with preparation by then complete for Friday’s BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl battle in Glendale, Arizona:
-- Which Ohio State team will show up against the Irish, the one that struggled against Michigan State and lost or the one that a week later pummeled Michigan (both Kelly and Meyer will be wondering that)?
-- Can Notre Dame’s defense find a way to at least slow down big-play Buckeye back Ezekiel Elliott, something few opposing teams have done lately (Kelly)?
-- Will Ohio State’s defensive front represent itself adequately in the absence of both Adolphus Washington (suspended) and Tommy Schutt (broken foot)?
-- Will Ohio State, just a year removed from hoisting the College Football Playoff trophy, look Friday like it still belongs in that area code? Or will Notre Dame, legitimately in the CFP conversation all season, play well enough to endorse those CFP thoughts (both Kelly and Meyer)?
“It’s easy to recognize speed and physicality,” said Kelly Thursday at the final media availability. “But it doesn’t show you the other team’s resolve. That’s the biggest challenge. We think we’ve got some of that, too.”
-- Can the Irish offensive line neutralize all-star Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa in some form—at least well enough to provide Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer with time to operate effectively (Kelly)?
-- Will Notre Dame’s big-time players play big-time roles (as Kelly so often says needs to happen in big games) against the Buckeyes?
“It’s time to play some football,” noted Kelly.
John Heisler, senior associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 1978. A South Bend, Indiana, native, he is a 1976 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame.