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Irish eyes weren't smiling on 'big day'

January 03, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

There can't be many bigger days the rest of the year than Monday's Fiesta Bowl between Notre Dame and Ohio State.

I woke up thinking about the game. I've been thinking about it since the bowl matchups were anticipated and then were announced. If it weren't for two lousy touchdowns, the Blue & Gold wouldn't even be playing today, still preparing for Wednesday's national title game.

I'd been asked several times leading up to the game, "You'll still be able to smile if Ohio State wins, won't you?" No! No! No!

I've been unhappy to see Ohio State win a football game only twice. I was in attendance both times - in 1995 when Ohio State beat the Irish in South Bend and the following year in Columbus. They were the only games the two have met, outside of a brief two-game set in 1935-36 (yes, before my time).

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This one is bigger than the midseason game against USC, when one of the two lousy touchdowns was scored and the Irish lost. It's bigger for Notre Dame football and fans than any USC-Texas game will ever be.

I'm thinking I should be with Laura Quinn during the game. She is the sister of Irish quarterback Brady Quinn, who is from Dublin, Ohio, and dates A.J. Hawk, Ohio State's most formidable defensive player.

Well, it's almost Noon on Gameday. Time to start setting everything aside, get Notre Dame-dressed and forget about the world. Shortly I'll have a brew and what better to munch on than some Tostitos.

Geez ... the time can't go fast enough to get to 4:30 ... Some good games ... Alabama wins on a last-second field goal ... Wisconsin wins in the last game for coach Barry Alvarez ... Virginia Tech comes from behind to beat Louisville ... Florida holds off Iowa ... OK, OK, let's get to the game.

Wham!!! Right down the field ... oops, Ohio State scores on a bomb ... one quarter down.

My oh my ... Ohio State has two turnovers and Notre Dame can't convert. Buckeyes are just overwhelming the Irish defense ... Doesn't look good at halftime.

I knew the phone would be ringing at the break. My dad called and he's just as puzzled. My daughter called, too.

Ouch. Notre Dame almost gets a break with a fumble, but it never happened. The play was called an incomplete pass when the OSU receiver didn't have control of the catch. It was the right call, but Ohio State gets a field goal.

Well, through three quarters and there's still a faint chance.

The blood pressure is rising. A touchdown and it's 27-20 and five minutes left. Is there a turnover in the waiting?

Why can't Notre Dame stop Troy White? He gets two third-down and long conversions.

There it goes. The game is over Antonio Pittman scores.

You can't give up 600 yards and win.

Turn out the lights, my party's over.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311 or by e-mail at: koelble@herald-mail.com

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