Braxton Miller, left, and the Ohio State Buckeyes won't get the chance… (Jay LaPrete, Michael Conroy…)
Notre Dame finished the college football season undefeated and will play in the BCS championship game. Ohio State also went unbeaten but is ineligible for a bowl due to NCAA sanctions.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the possible outcomes if the two teams had been able to meet this season. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
There are a lot of similarities between the two schools. Both have star coaches who came up through the MAC ranks who also led previous schools to undefeated seasons. Both are tough, resilient teams that easily could have multiple losses and not even be ranked in the top 10. Notre Dame almost lost to unranked Pitt, trailed unranked BYU and scored a controversial overtime victory against Stanford. Lowly California almost beat Ohio State and Purdue took the Buckeyes to overtime.
There is one huge difference, though, between Notre Dame and Ohio State. Notre Dame played every game with the pressure of the national title at stake while Ohio State was essentially playing with house money knowing it could not participate in the post season. This was a huge psychological advantage for Ohio State as there really were no consequences for defeat. Ohio State could play as if it had nothing to lose because nothing could be lost. Ohio State also did not have to play in the Big Ten title game.
The other thing that sticks in my mind is Notre Dame's impressive win at Oklahoma. Ohio State has no road victory that remotely matches that and to me is an indication that the Irish would win a mythical matchup against the Buckeyes.
Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune
It’s almost convenient for Ohio State that it is not eligible to play for the national championship this season. The Buckeyes would be no match for Notre Dame and the Irish defense. Notre Dame’s defense led by Manti Te’o would force Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who passed for a pedestrian 169.9 yards per game this season, to throw.
As for these being the only two undefeated teams in the country, Ohio State’s winning record against a weak Big Ten slate along with victories against nonconference nobodies like Miami (Ohio), Central Florida, California and UAB hardly compares to the Irish winning at Oklahoma and Stanford to remain unbeaten.
Ohio State’s defense, prone to missing tackles, would allow big days by Notre Dame running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. The Buckeyes are lucky this is a hypothetical debate.
Matthew Murschel, Orlando Sentinel
It’s hard to imagine how different the discussions would be surrounding a BCS championship game if Ohio State weren’t sitting out this postseason due to a bowl ban. The two teams that survived the season undefeated facing off for the national championship is a match made in TV heaven.
The Buckeyes have one of the more dynamic players in college football in Braxton Miller, a dual-threat quarterback who was second in the Big Ten in total offense this season. His play helped make Ohio State the No. 1 scoring offense in the league.
Miller would face his toughest challenge of the season in Notre Dame, which ranks sixth in the nation in total defense and is led by Heisman Trophy runner-up linebacker Manti Te’o. Te’o was the emotional backbone of the unit, helping the Fighting Irish win some close games.
In the end, it’s that ability to win the close contests that would give Notre Dame the edge in a battle between these two Midwest powers.
Mark Wogenrich, Allentown Morning Call
As appealing as the Notre Dame-Alabama title game is, Notre Dame-Ohio State would have been an even better show. Manti Te'o vs. Braxton Miller alone is worth the tune-in.
The nation's two unbeatens share wins over Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue, along with a pair of overtime victories. Notre Dame caught its break in three OTs against Purdue; Ohio State needed two miracles to beat Purdue.
Notre Dame's road wins over Oklahoma and USC hint at a slight edge over the Buckeyes, whose best road victories were at Penn State and Wisconsin. But the quarterback edge goes to Ohio State, whose all-purpose skill guys would clinch another national championship for Urban Meyer.
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