GOLDEN CHRONICLES OF NOTRE DAME
By Omar Ureña
South Bend, In., September 6, 2022.
Whatever happened at Ohio Stadium was sensational if you’re a Notre Dame fan. Yes, although it sounds incongruous. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were paddled by the Ohio State Buckeyes in an electrified ‘Horseshoe’ to show what wood they are made of. This team traveled to Columbus as 112 brothers starting their initiation, just like the freshmen and Andrea Martínez, the first female freshman in the history of the University of Mexico Pumas CU, experienced it in July, symbolizing a Puma with blonde hair.
Coach Marcus Freeman has been a great teacher, a defensive mind who is turning the tide of the program, turning on the power like an electrifying weapon, which is defense. Freeman, 36, a former LB with the Buckeyes, returned home as Notre Dame’s head coach in the first regular-season game between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish since 1996.
Fifth-ranked Notre Dame opened the 2022 season under the lights and the exorbitant cacophony of silver and red at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night against the No. 2 seed. The Irish struck swiftly on opening possession when Tyler Buchner ( 12) completed his first pass of the game to Lorenzo Styles (4) who scrambled 54 yards along the Ohio State bench. Kicker Blake Grupe (99) made a 33-yard field goal 2 minutes, 47 seconds into the game.
It is easier to destroy than to build and that night the Irish, far from destroying, were defending their soil with their souls to defeat an intrepid offensive guided by their QB C.J. Stroud (7), WR Emeka Egbuka (2) and RB TreVeyon Henderson (32). ). Yeah, this is the team that’s going to lead the Big Ten Conference, Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines are going to see draws down the road, there’s going to be a short circuit to yellow when they meet in Columbus on November 26, and that’s simply because the Buckeyes recruits have the guts and are hitting hard.
Ohio State got the first shots at the Irish defense in the first quarter when C. J. Stroud found Emeka Egbuka on the outside and scored a 31-yard TD to take the lead 7-3. The gap between Buchner and C. J. Stroud is wide. Notre Dame’s sophomore QB was injured in the preseason but he came to Columbus with a heart as hard as a diamond.
In this 2022 the Irish live in a situation opposed to the offensive inertia of the old regime, now we expect a change with a defensive presence. The Brian Kelly era ended and left Tommy Rees as the only person in charge of the blue and gold offense, now he is alone, he and his 10 years of offensive excellence at Notre Dame, first as QB and then as coordinator, his offense surprised and shook under the command of the now coach of the LSU Tigers. Rees gave up opulence in Baton Rouge and chose not to go to that golden zoo, with purple neon lights, yes, imagine this coach, who even changed his accent to feel southern and was welcomed Saturday night by the Florida State Seminoles, defeating his Tigers 24-23.
Early in the 2nd quarter Buchner threw passes that resulted in a pair of juggling catches by Matt Salerno and Kevin Bauman that moved the Irish 53 yards into the red zone. With great blocking from the offensive line, running back Audric Estime (7) flew over to score the first touchdown of the 2022 Fighting Irish, it was a one-yard dive to cap an 87-yard drive and go to the locker room with the lead . Notre Dame 10 Ohio State 7.
The possibility of winning was real, Freeman inspiring his boys, the same coach who is willing to go to Mexico if Jack Swarbrick one day decides to expand the Notre Dame brand in Aztec land. The coach who instructs how to defend the blue and gold territory. He already did it at Ohio State, being a leader as a LB, registering 268 tackles, he was the fearless and successful defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bearcats, he arrived at South Bend as defensive coordinator and finally his opportunity came to be head coach of the Irish. They love this guy because he truly cares and fights for his warriors.
Heroes showing who they are, right in the trenches, and who better than Isaiah Foskey (7), the king of the golden jungle, who made an appearance with 4 tackles, Jack Keizer (24), who, hungry to take down opponents, had 6 tackles , the strategy was to keep them fresh and Rylie Mills (99) was there, throwing his body like an arrow of fire to record 3 tackles.
Clarence Lewis (6) led the defensive effort with a seven-tackle, one-pass blocked performance, while Marist Liufau (8) finished the game with five tackles.
The story of the night was defense, playing the way they did after being called out for their toughness. They were the underdogs by 17 points against the No. 5 team in the country.
“I think the energy displayed by the defense tonight was off the charts,” Ohio State HC Ryan Day said.
After exchanging blows early in the 2nd half, Ohio State went ahead with 17 seconds left on the third-quarter. Stroud connected with Xavier Johnson (10) on a 24-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-10 lead, capping a 10-play, 74-yard drive.
The scarlet red did not forgive, they gave nothing away but pain, this team is trained to be a steamroller, on the other hand, Notre Dame players are maturing, in the classroom and on the field.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes defense controlled in the trenches and the Irish couldn’t stop them, the hits, they were bitter, they sounded hard in a game between two great traditional teams on the field of Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes’ defensive ends cross-court tackles were seen everywhere and struck fear. Ohio State coordinator Jim Knowles won the physical battle and oppressed his rival, who suffered from running the ball, a shortage of yards, only 76, the grandmother’s recipe failed and could not be executed by Tommy Rees’ offense. The Buckeyes who tackled furiously were Tommy Eichenberg (35) who had 9 tackles, Lathan Ramson (12) with 7, and Mike Hall Jr (51) with 4 and a sack.
In the end, Notre Dame’s offensive line collapsed, the gold towers collapsing like an earthquake, sophomore linemen being hazed; Blake Fisher (54) was punished hard and Andrew Kristofic (73) was dejected. Like a University of Mexico Pumas hazing, the Irish were bruised, beaten and hurt. With the punishment of Ohio State they are ready to understand that it is much better that this happened now and not weeks later.
Ohio State’s offense added a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run by Miyan Williams (3) with 4:51 left.
“We battled for two and a half quarters, but then they scored with 17 seconds left in the third and we didn’t fight back,” Freeman said.
In his first game as a starter, Tyler Buchner threw 10 completions of 18 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, the best numbers of his career. Junior RB Chris Tyree (25) and Audric Estime combined on 15 carries to rush for 49 yards. Michael “Baby Gronk” Mayer led receivers with five receptions for 32 yards, while Lorenzo Styles added a 54-yard catch to lead the team in receiving yards.
For Ohio State’s offense, Stroud threw 24 of 34 for 203 yards and two touchdown passes. WR Emeka Egbuka caught 9 of 11 passes for 90 yards and 2 TDs. TreVeyon Henderson rushed 15 times for 91 yards. Ohio State outscored No. 5 Notre Dame in the final 42 minutes in a tough battle. The loss snaps a five-game winning streak in the opening games of the season for Notre Dame. This world is made up of winners and losers like you and me, the Fighting Irish lost their first game to become winners in the just-started 2022 season.
A change has already begun, the Irish are on their way to the competition to reach the College Football Playoff, having as their final venue the Rams house, the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The Irish will work harder and harder, it is their daily mental, spiritual and academic struggle. Notre Dame is the place to be if you are dedicated in the classroom and strive to be the best on the field. Ohio State’s seven points were the fewest scored in the first half by a Buckeyes team with current HC Ryan Day.
This Notre Dame team is as strong as an oak tree and as hard as heavy metal, it’s the sound of Metallica’s Seek and Destroy. The Fighting Irish will have enough wrath in their golden chests ready to explode against Marshall’s Thundering Herd in the 2022 season opener at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, September 10 at 1:30 p.m. (central).
OHIO STATE 21 NOTRE DAME 10
Follow Omar Ureña on Twitter: @omarurena_