On the surface it would seem Troy Smith has little left to prove after just two years in Columbus. He's beaten Michigan twice, primarily due to his own outstanding individual performances. But the coming Fiesta Bowl date with Notre Dame marks his first bowl start. Last year, a violation of NCAA rules resulted in his suspension for his team's Alamo Bowl win.
Notre Dame also comes into the game with something to prove. The Irish have lost seven straight bowl games--not since their 1993 Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M has ND won a postseason date.
Both schools came within a play of winning their respective matchups with Texas and Southern Cal. In either case, a win would probably have gotten ND or Ohio State into the Rose Bowl. Come January 2 both schools have another chance to prove themselves on the national stage.