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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'We kind of stole a little bit of what they did last year'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — How a season is viewed by a player or coach or fanbase has an awful lot to do with whether or not the last game of the season was a win or a loss.

For the Buckeyes, the loss to Michigan State ended their title hopes and dampened the memory that the 2015 season could have provided. The win over Michigan, of course, improved the mood considerably, and a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl would no doubt do the same.

For senior linebacker Joshua Perry, however, it's not just about the memory of the 2015 season that makes the Fiesta Bowl important. This game will be part of the legacy that everybody on this team will leave behind, as well as the first step forward for the 2016 team.

"It’s very important," he said of this final game. "And to me, a lot of that is legacy of this group of leaders that we’ve had. Coach Meyer classifies us towards the top of some of the leaders that he’s had, but that’s all for naught if we don’t come out there and perform.

"Whatever happens to us in these last few games, that’s important just to leave a mark because there’s a million guys who came in here and had a ton of tackles and did this, that, and the other, but not a ton of guys can say that they’ve won games the way that we have. So that’s huge for us. The other thing for us is we want to make sure these guys go into the offseason understanding how talented they can be and how talented they are and leave them off on the right note so they can just continue with that momentum."

Last August it was believed by those outside of the Ohio State program that the Buckeyes' title hopes had gone down at the same exact time that Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury.

Instead, the "Next Man Up" mentality was instituted by Urban Meyer and bellyaching was outlawed. It culminated with Ohio State winning a national championship in an unbelievable manner, which has since been recounted in book form for your enjoyment.

How the Buckeyes managed their quarterback situation was the story of the year throughout the 2014 season, which made it no surprise that Brian Kelly used the OSU model when the Irish lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire to a broken ankle back in September and had to turn to redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer.

"I think it’s one of those things that as coaches, you hope that you’ve recruited well and prepared your backup quarterback to go in there, but you never really know until they get the opportunity," he said.

"We knew DeShone’s make up and the kind of kid he was and the character that he had. He went in and he made some plays, he gained a lot of confidence and as his confidence grew, we were able to add more to his play and I’m really proud of the way he handled himself.

"Urban had a similar situation last year and we kind of stole a little bit of what they did last year. Not making any excuses, just going and playing and the kids really kind of responded to that, in particular DeShone did and was able to lead our football team to some big wins."

When the bowl matchups were announced a week ago it was impossible not to notice the disappointment from Buckeye fans at drawing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Most of that was due to the fact that Ohio State would not be participating in the College Football Playoffs, but some of it also was due to being passed up for the Rose Bowl and a matchup against Stanford.

Being disappointed in a Fiesta Bowl berth against Notre Dame is not a healthy mindset on the part of the Buckeye fanbase, but a healthy mindset is probably the last thing you would ever want in a fanbase.

So how do Notre Dame fans feel about this game? Brian Kelly believes he has the finger on the pulse of NDNation.

"I think that we’re kind of used to playing the best," he said. "We schedule the best, we look forward to playing the best, we want to be associated with the best. And so I think our fan base embraces scheduling and getting matched against the best.

"If I was to take the pulse of our fan base, they’re excited about playing Ohio State because it’s the best, it’s the defending national champs. Our team wants to play the best and be measured against the best and that’s how we schedule. So I’m pretty certain if there was a poll out there, that’s how they’d feel."

And there is little doubt that if you took a poll of Notre Dame fans, they would readily agree with Kelly that Ohio State is the best.

Right?

This was a sign hung by Notre Dame fans during the 2006 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Player profiles relevant to story:
37 - Perry, Joshua
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