Notre Dame Postgame
1. With last night's 21-10 victory, Ohio State now leads the Notre Dame series 5 to 2, with each of the Buckeyes' wins coming by a double-digit margin (average margin of victory of 14.6 points). Ohio State also outgained Notre Dame in yardage (395 yards to 253 yards); first downs (22 to 12); plays (69 to 48); and time of possession (33 minutes to 27 minutes).
2. The first narrative heading into the game was this: Ohio State's high-powered passing attack would generate several big plays against a stout but slow Notre Dame defense. As things turned out, Notre Dame had the three longest pass plays of the game (54, 32, and 31 yards), and averaged far more yards per attempt (9.3 to 6.6) and per completion (17.7 to 9.8) than Ohio State.
3. The second narrative heading into the game was this: Notre Dame would win the battles of the trenches, allowing the Domer offense to run the ball consistently and the Domer defense to shut down the Buckeyes' running game. As things turned out, Ohio State easily outgained Notre Dame on the ground (172 yards to 76 yards) and nearly doubled their yards per carry (4.9 to 2.5).
4. It is unfair to say that Buckeye quarterback CJ Stroud regressed all the way back to the beginning of 2021, but he certainly did not pick up where he left off in last year's Rose Bowl. The numbers look pretty good (24/34, 223 yards, 2 TD, no INT, one sack), but Stroud was slow to make decisions, inaccurate with several passes, and once again displayed a maddening refusal to run the ball even with 10+ yards of open field in front of him. Nobody wants Stroud to be a running quarterback, but he has to learn to take positive yardage when the defense gives it to him, just like any other quarterback would do.
5. Sophomore Emeka Egbuka had his best game as a Buckeye with 9 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown, while fellow soph Marvin Harrison Jr. had a rather quiet night (5 receptions, 56 yards, no TDs). Heisman favorite Jaxon Smith-Njigba (2 receptions, 3 yards) left the game early with an apparent leg injury. With all the 5-star talent on offense, the play of the game was made by former walk-on RB/WR Xavier Johnson, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 24-yard reception at the end of the third quarter. Johnson, who has mostly played on special teams throughout his career, then made the tackle on the ensuing kick-off.
6. In college football, it is usually a sound strategy to establish the run so that your team can: (a) set the attitude, and (b) open up passing lanes. Obviously, it is best to establish the run as early as possible so that your team can maximize the benefits to be derived from (a) and (b). Last night, the Buckeyes employed a rather unconventional strategy in establishing the run. For the first three quarters, Ohio State passed the ball 28 times for 187 yards (6.7 ypa) and ran the ball 21 times for 84 yards (4.0 ypc). Then in the fourth quarter, clinging to a narrow 4-point lead, the Buckeyes decided that now it was time to set the attitude and perhaps even open up a few passing lanes. During the final period, Ohio State ran the ball 14 times for 88 yards and a touchdown (6.3 ypc) and passed the ball only 4 times (all completions) for 36 yards (9.0 ypa).
7. TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams essentially split the running back duties, with Henderson getting 15 carries for 91 yards (6.1 ypc, long of 16 yards) and Williams getting 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown (6.0 ypc, long of 15 yards).
8. Let's be honest, Notre Dame's offense does not look like it will be explosive this season. With that being said, the Buckeye defense (for the most part) shut down the opposition in a way that we haven't seen in a few years. Notre Dame scored only 10 points and had just 253 total yards (5.3 per play); the defense was even better in the second half, shutting out the Domers and holding them to just 72 yards on 21 plays (3.4 yards per play), with 32 of those yards coming on an incomplete pass that for some reason was not reviewed by the replay booth. Perhaps most impressive was the defense's performance on third down, holding Notre Dame to 3 conversions on 13 attempts (.231), quite a nice showing for a unit that was one of the worst in FBS last season.
9. After completing his first 8 passes for 128 yards (16.0 ypa), Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner completed just 2 of his final 10 attempts for 49 yards (4.9 ypa).
10. After last year's Rose Bowl, I said....
Eichenberg continued his excellent play last night with 9 tackles (6 solo), a pair of sacks, and another TFL. While I still don't see Eichenberg ever becoming one of the all-time greats at the Real Linebacker U, his noticeable improvement has made him a valuable member of a much-improved defense.
11. After playing very little as a true freshman in 2021 (4 games, 2 tackles), defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr. had a monster game in this season's opener: 4 tackles (3 solo), 1 sack (-11 yards), another TFL, and a QB hurry. While the stat line is impressive enough for an interior lineman, Hall seemed to be in Notre Dame's backfield on every single play and he was a large part of the reason that the Irish couldn't run the football effectively.
12. All American place kicker Noah Ruggles missed a 39-yard field goal attempt, which was the only blemish for the special teams units that otherwise played very well.
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