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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Ohio State 17 Notre Dame 14

September 24, 2023

Inches. Decimal points. Seconds. That’s ultimately what Notre Dame-Ohio State came down to.

Chip Trayanum scored by mere inches. Ohio State outgained Notre Dame 5.6 to 5.5 yards per play. There was one second left on the clock when the final score happened.

Notre Dame was this close to a signature win for the program and they did plenty to earn it, but there were so many things that went against them, some self-inflicted, that if only one of those things goes differently, the outcome would have changed.

Twice being stopped on 4th and short. Having a ball tipped by JD Bertrand end up bouncing into the hands of Ohio State tight end Cade Stover. Electing to run a screen on second down and not forcing Ohio State to use another timeout that ultimately saved them 10 seconds after the intentional grounding play.

Then, of course, having 10 men on the field on the final play from scrimmage, an absolutely unforgivable sin in that situation.

All of these little pieces contributed to the game going how it did and it’s a shame that it overshadowed an electric atmosphere, a resilient comeback, and really strong play from Notre Dame on both sides of the ball that helped them go toe to toe with Ohio State.

- I really don’t know how much more I should highlight the close-calls and the missed opportunities because they frankly have all blended in together at this point. Most of it I will save for the rewatch notes.

The big disappointment of the night was Notre Dame’s 3rd down performance. They allowed Ohio State to convert on 10 of 17 and the pass rush did not deliver. Outside of late in the game and some strong play from Javontae Jean-Baptiste, the edge pressure wasn’t there when it needed to be.

There was so much good from Notre Dame’s defense in this game, including limiting Marvin Harrison Jr. to only three catches for 32 yards. (Benjamin Morrison: confirmed dude). They also only allowed three explosive plays from a loaded Ohio State offense all game.

Unfortunately one of those was a 61-yard run from TreVeyon Henderson that gave Ohio State a 10-0 lead. One mistake and it ended up costing them dearly.

- There are two big things to take away from the offense in this game in my opinion.

The first is that everyone has underestimated Mitchell Evans as a weapon in the passing game. He’s clearly more than a strong in-line blocker and converted quarterback with some ability after the catch. He showed fantastic ball skills and not just on that ridiculous one-handed grab. He was huge tonight and caught all seven of his targets.

The other big thing is that Notre Dame’s running game was the biggest reason they came back in the game. They were able to lean on the offensive line and the backfield. Maybe it was just this game, but Jeremiyah Love sure looks like he’s going to be first in line to be RB1 when Audric Estime is gone to the NFL.

Love was not afraid of the moment one bit and he clearly belonged on the field in this game.

- Whose fault was it that Notre Dame was missing a defensive lineman on the final play of the game?

Marcus Freeman said he and the coaching staff will take the blame, but it’s too simple of an answer to put that on the coaches. It’s also not so simple to blame it on one player because we don’t know which specific play was supposed to be out there.

In base it would be Jordan Botelho, but they had Gabriel Rubio out there early in that spot on short yardage. We don’t know the answer so it’s tough to point fingers at this point.

- It really should have never come down to that.

A couple different decisions and the game is over. Or it could have been as simple as Spencer Shrader hitting his 47-yard field goal early in the game and Ohio State is driving to tie and not take the lead on that last drive.

This one clearly stung for Freeman and the players. You could see it on their faces as they spoke to the media after the game. Talking to anyone at the moment was probably the last thing they wanted to do.

I don’t think Freeman should ever apologize for being aggressive and going for it on 4th down. They weren’t controversial decisions to do so at the time. People just point back to those moments in hindsight because Notre Dame failed to gain the inches they needed.

There is no way he won’t go back and look at things that he likely would change, though. Things like Gerad Parker (who called a really good game for the most part) trying to get cute with the Sam Hartman keeper on the final drive after they had just run the ball for two first downs previously. 2nd and 15 is probably the main reason why they called a screen pass on the next play and when that went incomplete, they gave Ohio State valuable seconds that ended up mattering in the end.

There are dozens of other moments the coaches and players will look at that would have changed the game.

DJ Brown dropped an interception on the last drive. Ohio State's Davis Igbinosun got away with at least two more pass interference plays that weren’t called in the second half. Notre Dame has a false start before their final punt that pushes it back five yards. Those yards ended up mattering.

I could list many more that happened earlier that may not have seemed big at the time, but did ultimately hurt Notre Dame’s chances of winning.

There’s only tomorrow for Notre Dame to feel bad about it. They have Duke next week and they can’t let Ohio State beat them twice by hanging on to this result.

It’s little consolation for anyone involved in the program tonight, but this loss doesn’t mean their College Football Playoff chances are done. Right now it’s hard to think about because they were moments away, inches away, decimal points away from a magical moment.

Instead of that, this now is in the category of the Bush-Push as the kind of game that fans will never forget, but not in a good way.

Men's Under Armour White Notre Dame Fighting Irish Game Day All Day Fleece Half-Zip Jacket

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