Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fiesta Bowl Analysis

With the long-awaited Fiesta Bowl only days away, it is now time to begin breaking down the matchups for the Big Game.

Rather than doing one large article, I am going to try and do several, smaller articles over the next few days.

First up:

Ohio State Quarterbacks and Receivers
Notre Dame Secondary

Ohio State Starters:

Troy Smith, QB
1,940 yds, 62% completion, 14 TDs, 4 INTs

Ted Ginn, Jr., WR
43 receptions, 636 yards, 3 TDs

Santonio Holmes, WR
48 receptions, 853 yards, 10 TDs

Notre Dame Starters

Tom Zbikowski, FS
62 tackles, 1 sack, 5 INTs, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble

Chinedum Ndukwe, SS
50 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 2 INTs, 5 pass breakups, 4 forced fumbles

Mike Richardson, CB
62 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 7 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles

Ambrose Wooden, CB
67 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 pass breakups


Ohio State has two extremely talented and fast wide receivers, but neither is particularly tall. Trpy smith consolidated his position at QB this year, but Justin Zwick has also started for the Buckeyes, and if Smith isn't being particularly effective, or is injured, Zwick will not miss a stride should he have to play. Xwick has played in 7 games, completing 72% of his passes.
The dropoff after the first two receivers is steep. Anthony Gonzalez is next on the team with 27 catches for 358 yards and 3 TDs. Roy Hall rounds out the receiving corps, with 14 catches for 112 tds.
Notre Dame has struggled against the pass again this year statistically, but this secondary plays much better than the numbers show. Also, this unit has been not just opportunistic, but have created turnovers deep in their own territory, costing opponents sure points.
Overall, if the Irish can keep Holmes and Ginn in front of them, they will be able to control this passing offense. Expect a couple of big plays, however, as both starting receivers are deep threats.