Former Liberty County five-star linebacker and current Ohio State Buckeye football player Raekwon McMillan is gearing up for Friday’s Fiesta Bowl.
McMillan, the starting middle linebacker, and the Buckeye team will take on Notre Dame.
McMillan is entering postseason action as the Buckeye’s leading tackler with 114 total tackles.
This will be McMillan’s second bowl appearance. His first was in last year’s College Football Championship game against Oregon where the Buckeyes won 42-20.
During Monday’s media day, McMillan spoke with reporters about preparing for the big game. McMillan noted that some of the media tended to focus on issues that would break down most teams, such as quarterback controversies or the recent traffic citation against Ezekiel Elliot.
But McMillan added that the players are a true band of brothers who will stick together, especially on the field, to get the job done.
“We just stay together because as it is we got each other’s back. … We stay together and we stay as a team,” he said.
According to reports released by Ohio State, the Buckeyes led the Big Ten in rushing (241.9 yards per game) and finished second or third in total offense (428.9 yards per game), scoring (35.0 points per game), scoring defense (14.0 points allowed per game), pass efficiency (141.8) and opponent first downs (16.0 allowed per game).
Ohio State’s defense allowed the second fewest per game among teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Since the week 7 win over Penn State, the Buckeyes have surrendered just 10.7 ppg
(64 total points), the fewest in the FBS. The unit has allowed just one rushing TD over the last six games.
McMillan said he has no doubt the defense is up to the task of winning Friday.
“I’m the middle linebacker, and I’m in the middle of some of the best athletes in the nation,” McMillan said. “I got two safeties that are going to play in the NFL, two cornerbacks that are definitely going to be some of the top draft picks, my whole D-line is going to go, and the guys right beside me are NFL-caliber linebackers. … I feel we just bring the best out of each other.”
According to Ohio State, this will be the 45th Fiesta Bowl and a rematch of the 2005 game, when Ohio State defeated Notre Dame 34-
20 to cap a 10-2 campaign. The game will also represent Ohio State’s 46th bowl game, with the Buckeyes owning a 21-24 all-time bowl-game record.
The Buckeyes have played in six previous Fiesta Bowls.
Ohio State and Notre Dame will be meeting for only the sixth time on the gridiron. The teams met in 1935 and 1936, when the Buckeyes were coached by Francis Schmidt and the Irish were led by Elmer Layden. It would be 59 years after those games — both won by Notre Dame — before the two would meet again, with John Cooper’s Buckeyes claiming wins over Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame teams in 1995 (Columbus) and again in 1996 (South Bend).
The schools also met in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, with Coach Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes prevailing over Charlie Weis’ Fighting Irish 34-20.
This year’s game takes place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. It will be televised at 1 p.m. on ESPN.