Ohio State kicked off their 2022 football campaign by hosting Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 3 in front of a sold-out crowd. Ahead of this match up, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 in the AP poll while the Fighting Irish were ranked No. 5. OSU proved to be too much for the Irish in this contest, defeating them 21-10.
According to Ohio State Associate Athletic Director of Communications Jerry Emig, 43 NFL scouts representing 26 NFL teams were on hand for this highly-anticipated contest. Some of the biggest names in the sports world were also in attendance for this match up, including Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot.
Notre Dame received the opening kickoff and were pinned deep in their own territory after a great special teams play by the Buckeyes. The Irish weren’t pinned very long, as sophomore starting quarterback Tyler Buchner hit Pickerington Central alum Lorenzo Styles Jr. for a 54-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. A Buckeye personal foul after the play put Notre Dame into the red zone. The OSU defense held tough, holding the Irish to just a field goal on the opening drive.
Ohio State was forced to punt on their first drive, after a sack and three incomplete passes by redshirt sophomore quarterback C.J. Stroud. After forcing Notre Dame to punt on their ensuing drive, Stroud led a five-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Emeka Egbuka. The extra point made it 7-3 Buckeyes with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter, which was also the score at the end of quarter number one.
Notre Dame capped off a 10-play, 87-yard drive early in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown rush by sophomore running back Audric Estime. The extra point made the score 10-7 Fighting Irish with 11:56 remaining in quarter number two. Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions.
The Buckeyes put together a promising drive late in the second quarter, going 55 yards in 10 plays. Graduated senior kicker Noah Ruggles was set up for a 39-yard field goal to tie the game with just seconds left in the first half, but his attempt was wide left. This left a halftime score of: Notre Dame 10, Ohio State 7.
The Buckeyes received the opening kickoff of the second half and were forced to punt after three offensive plays. A personal foul by OSU on the punt set the Irish up at midfield. Notre Dame was unable to get anything going though and had to punt the ball back to Ohio State. Both offenses stalled on their next possessions, before OSU put together a 10-play, 70-yard drive, ending in a 24-yard strike from Stroud to graduated senior Xavier Johnson.
Standout wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba was injured in the first quarter of Saturday’s contest, which led to this opportunity for Johnson. The extra point made it 14-10 Buckeyes with just 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter, which was also the score at the start of the fourth quarter. An offensive pass interference call stalled the next drive for the Irish, but they were able to pin Ohio State on their own five-yard line on a punt by Jon Sot.
The ensuing drive by the Buckeyes featured a 14-play 95-yard showcasing the talents of running backs Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson. The tandem combined for 76 of the 95 yards on the drive, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Williams. The extra point made it 21-10 OSU with just under five minutes remaining in the game. This would prove to be the final score as Notre Dame was unable to find the end zone on their final drive.
Statistically for Ohio State, Stroud was 24-of-34 through the air with 223 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson rushed for 91 yards on 15 carries, while Williams rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Egbuka led all OSU receivers with 90 yards receiving and a touchdown on nine catches. Defensively, Tommy Eichenberg led the Buckeyes with nine tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for loss.
In the post-game press conference, OSU head coach Ryan Day spoke about winning “ugly”.
“That was something we spent a lot of time in the off season saying, ‘We have to be able to win ugly on offense, we have to stop the run on defense. They all count the same and you have to figure out based on who you’re going against, how do you want to win that game? When you have that versatility, man, it’s going to pay off down the road.” He finished, “It’s been a huge emphasis to win this way, and it starts with defense. You can play really good, strong defense like we played tonight, and we can run the football — we know we’ll throw the ball; we know that — but if we want to go where we need to be and reach our goals, we need to be able to do those two things.”
The Buckeyes (1-0) are back in action Saturday, Sept. 10, at home against Arkansas State with kickoff set for noon. Arkansas State (1-0) defeated Grambling on Saturday by a score of 58-3.
Notre Dame hosts Marshall Saturday at 2:30 p.m.