Buckeye Senior Class Notches Record 50th Win with Fiesta Bowl Victory over Fighting Irish —
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jan. 1, 2016 — Ezekiel Elliott was Ohio State’s drive capper in the first half. He became the show stopper with a burst of speed in the second.
Elliott ran for 149 yards and matched a Fiesta Bowl record with four touchdowns, sparking No. 7 Ohio State’s prolific offense in a 44-28 win over Notre Dame on Friday.
The Buckeyes (12-1) were left out of the College Football Playoff thanks to an inopportune loss. They may leave the desert wondering what could have been after blowing past another late-season playoff contender.
Ohio State rolled past the Fighting Irish (10-3), quick-hitting its way to one scoring drive after another and 496 total yards.
The Fighting Irish had some good offensive moments behind DeShone Kizer after Buckeyes star defensive end Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.
They just couldn’t keep up with the blistering Buckeyes after losing linebacker Jaylon Smith, one of their best defensive players, in the first quarter.
Kizer threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-37 passing, but had an interception and lost a fumble.
Notre Dame missed its CFB chance by four points; two-point losses to Clemson and Stanford.
Ohio State lost to Michigan State in its penultimate game and had to watch the Spartans join fellow one-loss teams Alabama and Oklahoma in the playoff.
Those just-misses turned the Fiesta Bowl into a talent show, with NFL-caliber players dotting rosters from both teams.
Two of the best players were gone before the first quarter ended.
Smith, the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s best linebacker, had to be helped off four minutes in after suffering an apparent leg injury and did not return.
Bosa, projected as a top-10 NFL draft pick, was gone a few minutes later after driving the top of his helmet into the chest of Kizer, long after the Notre Dame quarterback had released the ball.
Ohio State had its way with Notre Dame’s defense without Smith in the lineup, racing down the field for scores like a 7-on-7 drill.
Elliott, another potential first-round pick, was the Buckeyes’ punctuation mark, scoring on a pair of 1-yard runs and another from 2 yards. Barrett accounted for the other score, finding Michael Thomas on a 15-yard TD to put Ohio State up 28-14 at halftime.
Elliott showed off his speed to open the second half, blurring through a hole for his 47-yard touchdown to match the Fiesta Bowl record set by Arizona State’s Woody Green against Missouri in 1972.
Notre Dame took advantage of Ohio State’s Bosa-less defense a few times, though not enough to keep pace with the Buckeyes.
Kizer was the key, moving the Irish down the field to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams and on another drive that he capped himself with a 1-yard score. It was his 10th rushing TD, most by a Notre Dame quarterback in one season.
Kizer connected with Chris Brown on a 4-yard touchdown pass to open the second half, pulling the Irish within a touchdown.
After a quiet first three quarters, Will Fuller finally got a chance to show off his speed, using a quick move to create space before racing off on an 81-yard touchdown. The second-longest TD reception in Fiesta Bowl history pulled the Fighting Irish within 38-28, but they got no closer.
Ohio State Football Postgame Notes
2016 BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl
No. 7 Ohio State 44
No. 8 Notre Dame 28
Friday, Jan. 1, 2016
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
- The Ohio State senior class finishes with a 50-4 record over the past 4 seasons — all under Urban Meyer. The 50 wins represents a record among power 5 schools (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12) and ties the FBS record for most wins over a 4-year span with Boise State 2011 senior class.
- Ohio State and Notre Dame met for the sixth time Friday and for the third consecutive time as Top 10 teams. Ohio State leads the all-time series, 4-2.
- Ohio State is now 5-2 all-time in the Fiesta Bowl.
- The 28 points in the first half marked a season-high in a half this season for the Buckeyes.
- Head coach Urban Meyer is 10-2 in his career in bowl/playoff games.
- Ohio State is 4-2 overall in postseason games under Meyer.
- Meyer is now 43-3 in his career with more than a week to prepare for an opponent.
- Meyer is now 16-6 in his head coaching career against Top 10 teams and 33-13 against the Top 25.
- Ezekiel Elliott rushed 27 times for 149 yards and a career-high tying four TDs. He now has 12 rushing TDs in four career postseason games.
- The 4 TDs by Elliott marked the fourth game of his career with at least 3 rushing TDs, three of those games coming this season.
- Elliott’s four TDs also ties the Ohio State postseason record, set last season by Elliott in the national championship game vs. Oregon, and ties the Fiesta Bowl record.
- J.T. Barrett finished the game 19 of 31 passing for 211 yards and rushed 23 times for 96 yards.
- Barrett has accounted for a total of 20 TDs in his past 7 games (11 rushing, 9 passing).
- Barrett is now 15-2 in his career as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.
- Marcus Baugh hauled in a career-long 27-yard catch in the first quarter.
- Wide receiver Michael Thomas has now caught a pass in 29 consecutive games. He caught a 15-yard TD pass in the opening quarter, his ninth of the season and the 18th of his career.
- Thomas finished with seven catches — one shy of his personal best — for 72 yards and a score.
- Tyvis Powell recorded his third INT of the season and the eighth of his career in the third quarter.
- Darron Lee recorded seven solo tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF and 1 QBH. The Buckeyes recorded three 4th quarter sacks.
- Sean Nuernberger set a new career high with three made FGs in the game from 37, 38 and 35 yards.
NO. 8 BUCKEYES HAMMER NO. 10 WOLVERINES 42-13
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Nov. 28, 2015 — Ezekiel Elliott ran through, around and past Michigan’s defense a week after running his mouth.
Elliott had 214 yards rushing and two touchdowns, helping No. 8 Ohio State rout the 10th-ranked Wolverines 42-13 on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 8 CFP) have won 12 of the last 14 games in what has become a lopsided series.
Even with their latest win, the defending national champion Buckeyes need Penn State to beat No. 6 Michigan State later in the day to reach the Big Ten championship game against Iowa.
”Our season kind of rests on their shoulders right now,” Elliott said.
Ohio State fans at the Big House knew it as well, and in the second half began chanting: ”Go Penn State! Go Penn State!”
Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett had 19 carries for a season-high 139 yards, helping his team run for 369 yards.
The Wolverines (9-3, 6-2, No. 10 CFP) simply could not stop their rivals from running at will.
”The biggest thing is they were getting tired and they weren’t getting lined up,” Elliott said.
Elliott, who has 3,812 yards rushing in his career, passed Eddie George for No. 2 on the school’s all-time rushing list and trails only two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Elliott should at least be at the ceremony honoring college football’s most outstanding player.
”I think he should be in New York,” Meyer said. ”I think he is one of the best players in America. I don’t know if he should win. I don’t know the other players, but I am fortunate to be around him. He’s one of best players that I’ve ever been around.”
Elliott had a 5-yard run that put Ohio State up 14-3 in the second quarter and a 10-yard run put the Buckeyes ahead 35-13 early in the fourth.
”We couldn’t make tackles, especially on No. 15,” Michigan defensive tackle Chris Wormley said. ”A guy like that takes more than one person to tackle him.”
Barrett started the scoring barrage with a 7-yard run late in the first quarter. His 13-yard run late in the third quarter gave the Buckeyes an 18-point cushion and his 17-yard run midway through the fourth ended the scoring for Ohio State.
He ran more than he passed. Barrett was nine of 15 for 113 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass to Jalin Marshall that capped the first drive of the second half to give Ohio State a 21-10 lead.
Michigan trailed the entire game and pulled within four points twice in the first half.
When the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter, Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock was sacked and slammed onto his left shoulder and left the game. Rudock was injured by former high school teammate Joey Bosa and was replaced by Wilton Speight. Rudock and Bosa played together at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Rudock was 19 of 32 for 263 yards and a TD.
Unlike Ohio State, the Wolverines struggled to move the ball on the ground. Three-way player Jabrill Peppers had 29 yards rushing on seven carries and No. 1 running back De’Veon Smith had 10 carries for just 23 yards.
While Jim Harbaugh has generated a lot of hype this year for coming back to lead Michigan, were he was the starting quarterback two decades ago, he has to improve a program that is 0-4 against Meyer.
”I’m very proud of the team the way they’ve worked and the way they’ve progressed,” Harbaugh said. ”We’ve closed a lot of ground. More ground to make up, but knowing our team, we will keep working hard.”
This just wasn’t the year for Michigan to gain an edge in The Game. During the final minutes, red-clad fans were easy to see in the emptying stadium and could be heard shouting, ”OH-IO! OH-IO!” toward the end of another blowout.