Game 1 Recap: Ohio State 21 – Notre Dame 10
The atmosphere for this game lived up to the hype. The College Game Day crew tried to manufacture some pre-game buzz with Jack Harlow (which was not successful) and the rain kept at bay for the 4 hours between kickoff and the singing of Carmer Ohio in the end. The crowd of over 106,000 was loud as Buckeye Legends from past, present, and future attended the top 5 clash, and the drone show at halftime helped keep attention during the band’s jazz show (which was hard to hear).
The anticipation for this game in terms of the Buckeyes had 3 questions the fans and media wanted to have answered: 1. Can this offense score at will and continue to click without 2 first round receivers? 2. Did the defense improve? 3. Is this team tough?.
Emphatically, the last two questions were answered. Notre Dame did want it wanted to do in terms of ball control in the first quarter, holding the ball for 11 minutes to Ohio State’s 4, but trailed 7-3 after a CJ Stroud touchdown pass to Emeka Egbuka. The second quarter, the Irish kept their drive going, and took the lead with a touchdown by Audric Estime from the 1 yard line 10-7, which kept that way into halftime. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was injured after a tackle that rolled his leg, and it ended up keeping him out of the rest of the game.
The second half though is where the Buckeye defense stepped up, and the offense showed its toughness. Although the offense didnt light up the scoreboard as we say them do several times last season, this game showed that they can win a game the old fashioned way – by earning it on the ground. The Buckeyes had 5 total possessions in the second half, punting on their first 2 possessions, but on their third drive after holding back the Irish, they had a 10 play, 7- yard drive that was capped off with a 24 yard pass from CJ Stroud to Xavier Johnson for 24 yards on 3rd and 11 to take a 14-10 lead.
On their next possession, they were pinned at the 5 yard line, and drove 95 yards in 7 minutes and 6 second which all but secured the win. The Buckeye defense held strong and forced a 3 and out, which Ohio State took the ball and ran out the clock after a couple TreVeyon Henderson first down runs.
CJ Stroud didn’t have his best statistical day completing 24 of 34 passes for 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. We did see him scramble a little more as he did some roll out passes, and was able to find receivers while limiting QB runs.
TreVeyon Henderson lead all running backs with 15 carries and 91 yards. Miyan Williams had 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown, while catching a critical pass for 12 yards.
Emeka Egbuka led the receivers with 9 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Harrison Jr was second with 5 catches for 56 yards, and Xavier Johnson had 2 catches for 34 yards,
The defense held Notre Dame to 253 total yards, with 177 yards passing, and 76 yards rushing. They also had 3 sacks, two of those from linebacker Tommy Eichenburg, who lead the team with 9 total tackles, and 3 for a loss.
The Miyan Williams Drive as it might be dubbed at the end of the season. The whole offseason, the Buckeyes heard they needed to show toughness and could get a sustained drive with the running game, getting yards on the ground when the needed it, and this was much needed drive to get it. Pinned back at their own 5 yard line, the Buckeyes strung together a 14 play drive that was capped off with a Miyan Williams 2-yard touchdown drive. He accounted for 49 of the 95 yards on that drive alone, and came up with a clutch catch of 12 yards on a 3rd and 3 along the sidelines to keep the drive alive.
Star of the Game
The Ohio State defense. The offense was held back a bit with Jaxon Smith-Njigba getting hurt, and were held to only 7 point at halftime, before scoring 2 touchdowns in the second half to secure the win. The defense though held the Irish to only 74 yards in the second half, and Tyler Buchner, who started 8-8 passing passed for 2 completions out of 10 passes in the second half. Although there were no turnovers, shutting down an offense they would have given up over 300 yards or more last year shows this team is starting to click defensively and will be a challenge for upcoming opponents.
Ohio State did what it needed to do to get a gutsy win against a preseason top 5 team in Notre Dame. Alabama and Georgia dominated their respective games, and the Bulldogs might jump the Buckeyes in the next polls, but Ohio State winning this one was one they needed to win, and have two of their easier games coming up before playing a potential top 25 match up against Wisconsin on September 24th.
Ohio State (1-0) hosts Arkansas State (1-0) at 12pm on BTN.
Notre Dame (0-1) returns home to host Marshall (1-0) at 2:30pm on NBC.
Photo credit: Buckeye Wire – USA Today