Ohio State’s 17-14 win over Notre Dame with one second left.
The Buckeyes got the ball back with 1:26 left and needed every second of that drive as Chip Traynum took the ball across the goal line in a timeout and a dive.
Ohio State needed 15 plays to go 65 yards on the game-winning drive that included multiple turnovers on third and fourth downs. After failing to pick up a yard on the first two plays of the drive, Ohio State converted Emeka Ekbuka on third-and-10 for 23 yards. Four plays later, Kyle McCord found Julian Fleming for seven yards on fourth-and-7 with less than 45 seconds left.
Moments later, McCord was called for an intentional grounding and Ohio State was forced to use its last timeout with 15 seconds left. On the next play — third-and-19 — McCord hit Ekbuka on a 21-yard play to the Notre Dame 1-yard line with seven seconds left.
Three plays later, Ohio State scored.
Trayanum’s run was exposed on the left side of the offensive line and part of the Notre Dame defense. Notre Dame had just 10 players on the field for Ohio State’s game-winning score. Based on the way the team is aligned before the snap, the missing player may be assigned to that part of the line of scrimmage.
Ohio State’s game-winning drive capped off a more exciting second half than the first. The Buckeyes led 3-0 at halftime before taking a 10-0 lead on a TD run by Trevion Henderson.
Notre Dame scored 14 straight points to take its first lead with 8:22 left. Notre Dame’s TD drive took 6:29 to go on a TD pass from Sam Hartman to Rico Flores Jr. and the Irish controlled the ball most of the time. of the second half. Notre Dame’s first TD drive came midway through the third quarter of the game and the Irish went 33 plays in the second half to go up 14-10 to Ohio State’s eight.
Missed fourth-down opportunities
Both teams were left reeling from missed opportunities on fourth downs throughout the game. Each team failed to convert on two short fourth-down attempts in the other team’s territory.
Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman was stopped short of a stick in the first quarter after the Irish got inside the Ohio State 20. At the end of Notre Dame’s first drive of the second half, Hartman ran for no gain on fourth down at the Ohio State 39. under.
Ohio State turned the ball over a yard out of the Notre Dame end zone in the second half when McCord’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 6:53 left before halftime.
In the second half, Notre Dame stopped Ohio State on consecutive plays at the 11-yard line. After Henderson was blocked on third down, Ohio State called timeout ahead of a fourth down. Instead of trying to run it back up the middle, the call was for Ekbuka to end. It was packed flat.
That missed conversion could have sealed the win for Notre Dame. But Ohio State DE JT Tuimolau forced Notre Dame to punt after the Irish gained two first downs. A third first down could have run the clock.
Hartman finished the game 17-of-25 passing for 175 yards and a TD, while McCord was 21-of-37 for 240 yards. Henderson had 14 carries for 104 yards and Notre Dame RB Audrey Estime had 14 carries for 70 yards.
Notre Dame’s case for playoff contention
The loser of Saturday night’s game will be playing catch-up all season to get back into the College Football Playoff mix. But if there’s ever going to be a team with two losses to make the playoffs, this Notre Dame team might have a compelling case if it goes undefeated all season.
The Irish have games against Duke, USC and Clemson remaining on their schedule. A close loss to USC or Clemson and a win over the other two would give Notre Dame a solid case at 10-2 if the debate was between multiple-loss teams for a playoff spot.
But that’s unlikely to be a real debate. No two-loss team has ever advanced to a four-team playoff. Notre Dame should beat everyone else on its schedule.
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