The Ohio State Buckeyes could beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a battle of unbeaten.
If not for a bowl ban, the Ohio State football program could have won its second BCS National Championship in a decade.
Instead, the team opted to not self-impose a bowl ban in 2011, and ended up losing in the Gator Bowl to Florida. That’s not a great trade-off for the Buckeyes.
Still, there’s no going back in time and undoing what was done. The sanctions happened; it’s all ancient history. As a result, we’re left wondering what could have been.
There’s no guarantee that the Buckeyes would have even made the title game after either Alabama or Georgia win the SEC championship.
But let’s take a hypothetical look at how the Buckeyes would overcome the Irish if they weren’t banned from postseason play.
First and foremost, Notre Dame hasn’t been tested by a team that has a multi-dimensional attack. Most teams the Irish have faced have been fundamentally locked into either the run or the pass.
Their defense, while stout and efficient, wouldn’t have had an answer for Braxton Miller. Both his multi-threat capability and Urban Meyer’s experience in beating the best defenses the SEC has to offer would certainly come into play.
Meyer would have created a game plan that would get Miller into space by taking advantage of the aggressiveness of the unit. Misdirection plays and read-options to spring Miller would cause hypothetical nightmares for the Irish all game.
Notre Dame has also struggled against teams who are able to take away the run with strong play along the defensive line. The Buckeyes are no slouch in that department, having allowed a 14th-best 116 yards per game on the ground in 2012.
Give the advantage to the Buckeyes in this case. Up front, there isn’t a team the Irish played this season, other than Stanford, that could fight them and get as physical with them as the Buckeyes’ front seven.
Stanford was inches away from defeating the Irish.
Pittsburgh was even closer with its competent run-stopping unit.
Both Michigan and Michigan State stifled the Irish running game, holding them to 94 and 122 yards respectively.
Given both the matchup problems Braxton Miller could create and the Buckeyes’ stout front seven, there’s no reason to think that the Buckeyes wouldn’t have knocked off the Irish in a national championship showdown.