WHO: No. 7 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 8 Notre Dame (10-2)
WHAT: The 44th BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
WHEN: 1:00 PM ET, Jan. 1 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The defending national champions from Ohio State may have gone 11-1 this season and been left out of the College Football Playoff for a chance to defend their title, but playing in the Fiesta Bowl is something this program has come to embrace over the years. The Buckeyes have a strong history in the Fiesta Bowl. This will mark Ohio State’s seventh trip to the Fiesta Bowl, breaking a tie with Penn State, Arizona State and Nebraska for the most all-time appearances. Ohio State is 4-2 in the Fiesta Bowl, including a 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. The times have changed, but Ohio State still looks like a solid favorite over the Fighting Irish in this year’s Fiesta Bowl pairing.
Ohio State will be looking to send its seniors and a handful of juniors out with a win. Defensive end Joey Bosa and running back Ezekiel Elliott will be playing their final game in a Buckeyes uniform, as well as quarterback Cardale Jones. All three could have an impact on the game, although Jones will be backing up J.T. Barrett. One other player that tends to get overshadowed is Braxton Miller, the quarterback turned wide receiver. It would be fitting if Miller could get a chance to shine for Ohio State one last time considering his history with the program. All that remains to be seen is if Ohio State can put it all together and play to its abilities and potential in the final game of the season, and also avoid a letdown of not playing in the playoff.
On the other side of the field will be a Notre Dame team that has become more athletic in recent years and one that has become faster. This is not the same Notre Dame team Brian Kelly coached to the BCS National Championship before being obliterated by Alabama. This Notre Dame team has grown and evolved from that team. This Irish team has also been one to overcome injury issues and diminishing depth time and time again. Because of all of the injuries to key players on offense and defense this fall, you can argue Kelly had one of his best seasons as a head coach, because Notre Dame pushed both Clemson and Stanford to the limit on the road this season. Those were the only losses Note Dame experienced. No matter how much Notre Dame has been weakened, they seem to battle back.
Freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer will be tested and should be under pressure at times, but Will Fuller should be able to make some big plays down the field. Notre Dame’s big plays may come too few and far between though to beat Ohio State.
THE PREDICTION: Ohio State 38, Notre Dame 23
New Texas coordinator Chris Ash’s task at turning around the team’s defense got a tad bit harder on Saturday.
According to a release from the school, linebacker Ayodele Adeoye suffered a foot injury and will undergo surgery to correct it. While he is expected to be back in time for summer workouts, the upcoming trip under the knife will knock him out for all of spring practice in Austin.
Adeoye was a top recruit out of high school in 2018 but played in just four games and redshirted his first year on the Forty Acres. He turned into a regular starter (nine games) last season however and was fifth on the team in tackles (45) while recording an interception and 2.5 sacks.
With the redshirt sophomore out, the Longhorns depth this spring as they re-tool under Ash will certainly be tested. Fellow rising sophomore David Gbenda likely will take on an increased role based on the depth chart — though he might have to earn his way back after being sent home from UT’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah due to a violation of team rules.
Texas opens the 2020 season at home against USF and new head coach Jeff Scott before heading to Baton Rouge for a must-see game against reigning national champion LSU in Week 2.
The transfer portal has giveth for Miami football and it’s taken away.
Less than a week after Hurricanes got a big pickup in the form of Temple grad transfer DL Quincy Roche, the program learned that veteran defensive end Scott Patchan had entered his name into the transfer portal via an announcement on social media:
Patchan started six games last season and played in all 13 for Miami in 2019. He recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks while in the lineup but ultimately took a back seat to star pass rusher Greg Rousseau and a host of others.
The loss of Patchan certainly hurts the depth head coach Manny Diaz has to play with but is by no means a killer given what will return in 2020 along the line. In addition to Rousseau (coming off a 15.5 sack campaign) and former AAC Defensive Player of the Year Roche, rising sophomore Jahfari Harvey saw action and former five-star Jaelan Phillips will be eligible after transferring from UCLA.
Patchan, who received a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth-year after injuries hampered his career, will be immediately eligible for his new school.
Miami opens the 2020 season with a game against Temple as part of a three-game homestand against Group of Five opponents before traveling to Michigan State for a big non-conference test.
A difficult year for UCLA on the football field was just as difficult on the balance sheet.
According to details obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the Bruins reported a shocking $18.9 million deficit for the recent 2018-19 fiscal year. This was the result of $108.4 million in revenue and $127.3 million in outgoing expenses.
“A confluence of events over the past two years led us to this point,” AD Dan Guerrero said in a statement to the paper, “and while it is unusual for us, we expect this shortfall can be mitigated.
“The investments made into our football and men’s basketball programs will pay off, ticket sales will normalize and one-time expenses will be paid.”
Those investments included a nearly 30 percent increase in the football program’s funding since the hire of Chip Kelly in late 2017. While former head coach Jim Mora’s buyout (nearly $12.5 million) was recorded in the previous year’s budget, the effects of it naturally carried over and created an even tricker situation when basketball coach Steve Alford’s buyout was thrown in for 2019.
In addition to buyouts, the grocery bill seemed to play a pretty big factor in the deficit as well. While this doesn’t appear to just be the case of switching from Albertsons to Whole Foods, under Kelly the program’s budget for nutrition ballooned from just a shade under $1 million to nearly $5.4 million last year. Add in decreased ticket sales in football (down $3.5 million from projections) after a disappointing year and increased costs from other places in the department and you can see how UCLA quickly went from being in the black into the red.
Needless to say, that puts even more pressure on Kelly and company to help turn things around in 2020. Things in Westwood haven’t been rosy in some time in the major revenue-producing sports and it seems it’s finally caught up to the folks in powder blue.
New Baylor football head coach Dave Aranda has been busy assembling his new coaching staff and filling it with familiar faces from his days at LSU.
One looming question that was still in the wind however was just what direction the defensive-minded coach would be taking on the other side of the ball. Now it appears we know.
As first reported by Yahoo! Sports and confirmed by a number of other outlets, the Bears are set to bring in former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora as the program’s new offensive coordinator.
Fedora is no stranger to the Lone Star State, having grown up in College Station and spent the 2019 season as an offensive analyst at Texas. He also coached at Baylor from 1991-1996 as a position coach responsible for, at times, the wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.
The 57 year old previously served as OC at Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State and is well versed in running a high-flying spread offense. He took over as head coach of Southern Miss and quickly got the program back on track before heading to Chapel Hill. While in charge of the Tar Heels, he guided UNC to a 79-62 record that included a division title in 2015.
While it’s assumed that Fedora will be calling plays while in Waco, he does join a previously announced hire in Jorge Munoz on the Bears staff. The latter was a coordinator himself at UL-Lafayette and recently served as an analyst at LSU helping develop Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.