Notre Dame suffered a 21-10 loss to No. 2 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes’ defense was forced to carry the load in Saturday’s season opener against Notre Dame, owing to the offense’s lack of explosiveness. That wouldn’t have been a smart choice in the last couple of seasons, as many Ohio State fans would agree. The new defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, made a great first impression, as Notre Dame’s cautious strategy with QB Tyler Buchner was unable to penetrate the Buckeyes’ defense, resulting in punts on six consecutive possessions after their touchdown drive.
In Saturday night’s 21-10 victory against No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 2 Ohio State scored its fewest points since 2018.
The Buckeyes’ prolific attack was hindered by Notre Dame’s excellent strategy and Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s injury. Ohio State, however, had enough to prevail after C.J. Stroud threw a 24-yard TD pass to Xavier Johnson with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Johnson’s catch was his first collegiate touchdown.
Notre Dame took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter when Ohio State’s Stroud threw a 31-yard TD pass to Emeka Egbuka. Ohio State drove 87 yards in 10 plays later in the quarter and took a 7-3 lead into halftime after missing a field goal in the final seconds.
After putting up over 300 yards receiving in a Rose Bowl win over Utah, Smith-Njigba appeared to injure his left leg early in the first quarter and saw limited playing time for the remainder of the half. He then spent the second half on the sidelines after recording just two catches for three yards.
Ohio State capped a seven-minute, 95-yard possession late in the fourth quarter to put away Notre Dame, finally tallying a way to move the ball consistently against the Irish’s defense.
In the Buckeyes’ previous game, in which they lost to Iowa, they scored just 20 points. Stroud had 223 yards and completed 24 of his 34 attempts in Saturday’s game.
Ohio State fans would agree that relying on their defense during games over the last few years would have been a dangerous proposition. However, Ohio State’s defense was the only thing that kept them in the game against Notre Dame. The Buckeyes’ defense was successful as a result of a new defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles. Notre Dame’s quarterback, Tyler Buchner, was unable to find any holes in Ohio State’s secondary.