Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 20 of 55 SEPT. 10, 2022 21 BY TYLER HORKA N otre Dame could not have asked for better game flow through 30 minutes. A winning formula was in the making. The Irish had more yards (181) than Ohio State (149) in the first half. They had run the exact same number of plays (28). They were averaging a full yard per play (6.5) more than the Buckeyes (5.3). They possessed the ball for more than three minutes longer than the home team. Most importantly, they held a three- point lead. Whatever was said in the halftime meeting didn't work. Or maybe it what was said in the Ohio State locker room that made the difference. Notre Dame lost its way. Ohio State's was found. The second half was an entirely different story than the first. Ohio State had well more than three times as many yards (246) as Notre Dame (72). The Buckeyes ran 41 plays, while the Irish ran 20. They averaged 6.0 yards per play, while the Irish averaged 3.6. They possessed the ball for nearly twice as long, 19:34 to 10:26. Most importantly, Ohio State outscored Notre Dame by 14 points and won 21-10. Throw all those first-half stats out the window. It's completely inconsequential that No. 5 Notre Dame had No. 2 Ohio State on the ropes for a couple quarters. Like Muhammad Ali in his prime, the Buckeyes sprung to the center of the ring and punched back. It wasn't the most powerful blow a Ryan Day team has delivered in the last handful of sea- sons, but it had enough behind it to leave Irish head coach Marcus Freeman hopelessly motionless, wondering what to tell reporters at game's end. "There is no such thing as a moral vic- tory," Freeman said. "We didn't finish the game. We didn't execute. I think we found out we are a good football team. "We have a good, tough football team. We have to learn how to finish." Sophomore quarterback Tyler Buch- ner was simply learning how to start, let alone finish. He completed his first 8 passes for 128 yards but ended up 10 of 18 for 177 yards in his first career start. He was outplayed by Heisman hopeful C.J. Stroud, who connected on 24 of 34 throws for 223 yards with 2 touchdowns. Buchner was never expected to out- play Stroud. The Notre Dame defense was never expected to stymie him for such long stretches like it did either. But when winning time came calling, Stroud answered the bell. "It's tough when Ohio State goes on a 14-0 run [to close it out]," Buchner said. "It's hard to win a game like that." Not just hard but impossible, rather, when a team is held scoreless in response. FIRST QUARTER OHIO STATE 7, NOTRE DAME 3 Top Moment: Sophomore wide re- ceiver Lorenzo Styles took the first touch from scrimmage 54 yards. The corner covering him overshot the pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner, and Styles was off and running. It set up the game's opening score, a 33-yard field goal off the foot of Blake Grupe. Feature Performer: Sophomore running back Audric Estime carried the ball 5 times for 16 yards. He came out as Notre Dame's primary back. Stats: Notre Dame gained 87 yards to Ohio State's 55, but the two teams only BUCKED OFF COURSE No. 5 Notre Dame starts hot but finishes cold in season-opening 21-10 loss at No. 2 Ohio State Sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner lost his first career start despite beginning the game a perfect 8-of-8 through the air. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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