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
The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.
For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.
As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.
On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.
“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”
White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.
White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.
This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.
While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.
The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.
Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.
Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.
Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.
Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.
A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.
Hugh Freeze may be dealing with what was a significant health issue, but he’s still working his first-year roster at Liberty.
On his personal Twitter account Tuesday evening, Tim Kidd-Glass announced that he “would like to thank God for allowing me to have another opportunity to further my football career… at Liberty University.” The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the safety triggered a move from North Carolina State by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.
As a graduate transfer, Kidd-Glass will be eligible to play for the Flames in 2019.
The past three seasons, the Virginia native played in 33 games for the Wolfpack. He started nine of those contests, all of which came during the 2017 season.