6:58 PM EST, December 10, 2012
Irish battle tested
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.
Irish felt the pressure
Los Angeles Times
Both have star coaches who came up the MAC ranks and 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.
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 postseason.
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.
Irish defense too tough
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, which would force quarterback Braxton Miller, who passed for a pedestrian 169.9 yards per game this season, to throw.
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 for Notre Dame running backs. Buckeyes are lucky this is a hypothetical debate.
Edge to Buckeyes
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 Pittsburgh; 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 QB edge goes to Ohio State, whose all-purpose skill guys would have clinched another national championship for Urban Meyer.
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