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Unnecessary Buckeye Preview – Ohio State Buckeyes at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (pt. 1)

Photo by Joel Speyer

The week of Ohio State-Notre Dame is finally upon us. Ohio State fans have been waiting for this game since New Year’s Eve, when Noah Ruggles missed a last-second 50-yard field goal attempt in the playoff semifinal against Georgia. Notre Dame fans have been waiting since September 3, 2022, when the Fighting Irish lost to the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium 21-10.

Ohio State and Notre Dame are natural rivals geographically, the schools are roughly 250 miles apart, and both football programs have storied traditions with decades of dominance. For whatever reasons, the teams have only played seven times, with Ohio State coming out victorious five times. Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1936, although the teams didn’t play for almost sixty years until the rivalry was rekindled in 1995.

The teams have played five times since then, and Ohio State has won them all. There have been some fun moments for Buckeye fans. A game-opening kickoff return by Dimitrious Stanley (Rest in Peace) in 1996 in front of a boisterous South Bend crowd got Ohio State off and running. Buckeye linebacker AJ Hawk squashing future brother-in-law and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn on a sack in the 2006

Fiesta Bowl as fiancé/sister Laura Hawk watched from the stands wearing a split jersey.

These don’t stack up to the game in Columbus in 1995, however, the game that renewed the rivalry. It was a long time coming. The monumental matchup loomed on Ohio State’s future schedules for years, added sometime in the early/mid-80’s. Ohio State’s archrival Michigan got to play Notre Dame every year, which was completely unfair, and so did Purdue! But Notre Dame was on the future schedule and the day would eventually arrive.

When game day finally did arrive in 1995, complete with ESPN College Gameday, the weather was perfect and tailgate parties were bursting at the seams. It seemed the revelry went on for hours before the noon start. The crowd inside the game was electric from the opening kickoff and the game lived up to every ounce of the hype. A close game at halftime, Ohio State turned on the burners to the tune of 31 points in the second half and ran away with it. The moment was succinctly captured by photographer Fred Squillante. Every Buckeye fan knows the picture of Eddie George running away from the entire Notre Dame defense.

The 1995 Buckeye team was Head Coach John Cooper’s best team. On the offensive side, Eddie George was a Heisman Trophy winning running back, Terry Glenn (Rest in Peace) won the Biletnikoff as the best wide receiver in the country, and Orlando Pace was serving pancake blocks. On the defensive side, Ohio State had two great players and future head coaches on the defensive line in Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell, and two shutdown cornerbacks including Shawn Springs. But in Cooper fashion, the team lost to Michigan in the season finale to dash all hopes of a winning a championship or anything of meaning.

Fast-forward 28 years and we’re back in the present. The matches against weaker opponents are through and now it’s time for business. Both teams are undoubtedly having a spirited practice week and will be ready to suit up on Saturday. The college football world is ready too!

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