I just saw my life flash before my eyes. And it would not surprise me if I died in my sleep overnight from a heart attack. Oh. My. God! OHIO STATE WINS AN ABSOLUTE INSTANT CLASSIC OVER NOTRE DAME! Somewhere on that great Sideline in the Sky, Woody Hayes is beaming. While Knute Rockne is rolling over in his grave. That just might be one of the greatest finishes to a game in college football history!
Seasons are made or broken with games like this. Heroes are forged in games like this. And true leaders step up in clutch situations when they have no choice but to put up or shut up. The Buckeyes had their backs against the wall in South Bend, and were counting on a raw quarterback to come through in his first major start. Any ordinary team or quarterback would fold, and Notre Dame would've finally gotten their first win over Ohio State in nearly 90 years.
But Ohio State just showed they are most definitely not an ordinary team. They can play National Championship-level football, and they can still win a big game when they absolutely have to have it. They did both of those things tonight. But how did they do it? How did they overcome the "Luck of the Irish" and win one of the best college football games in years? Let's take a look at the Keys to Victory to break down this absolute thriller!
Silver Bullet Defense
This area of the game wasn't perfect by any stretch. And there's always work to do. But Ohio State shut down a Fighting Irish offense that was averaging 46 points per game through the first four weeks of the season. 46. Yes Notre Dame did play Navy, Tennessee State, NC State and Central Michigan. But the fact that the offense was that explosive just showed how well Ohio State played on that side of the football. They got consistent pressure on Heisman hopeful Sam Hartman, and held Notre Dame to a combined 5-14 on third and fourth down.
The only knock I have on the defense so far after that, is they're weak in zone coverage. Hartman picked them apart too much. Smart, talented quarterbacks know to take what defenses give them. He would have done more damage if he had another chance. Jim Knowles needs to get these guys playing better zone coverage. Especially later in the season against teams like Penn State and Michigan. JJ McCarthy will do the same thing to them that Hartman did tonight. Lots of cleaning up to do.
Kyle McCord grew up
Where are all the Kyle McCord haters at? Did they disappear? If not, they can find the door. I'll gladly help them leave. I don't want to hear any undue criticism of this kid after tonight. Not a peep. They can stick a sock in it!
Does he have a lot of growing to do? Absolutely. Does he have a lot to clean up and refine when it comes to his game, leadership style and mechanics? You bet. But he did what starting quarterbacks do: He led his team to victory in a very hostile environment, didn't turn the ball over, and made clutch throws when the team absolutely had to have them. That's what leaders do. He took a MASSIVE step in his journey tonight to be Ohio State's unquestioned leader under center!
I have never seen Ryan Day as angry as he was following this one. Lou Holtz questioned Ohio State's toughness earlier, saying the best teams beat the Buckeyes because they're not physical. He basically called Ohio State soft.
As much as I respect Lou Holtz and all he's done in his career and life, just because he's a college football legend doesn't give him the right to be free from criticism. Glad Coach Day was emotional and spoke up. For as much as Lou Holtz criticized the Buckeyes, I have to ask the question: Do soft teams do what Ohio State did? Do soft teams win games like the way the Buckeyes did tonight? Absolutely not!
I'm not saying this game will power Ohio State to the National Championship, and they still have a lot of football left to play. But this game could help this team grow up and grow up fast for the big games looming large this season, especially Penn State, Michigan, and just maybe a Big Ten Championship Game or College Football Playoff appearance. The first major win on Ohio State's resume happened tonight.
Up next for the Buckeyes? A home game against Maryland on October 7th. What a way to go into the bye week though! My goodness...
The Ohio State Buckeyes win an instant classic for the ages! GO BUCKS!!!
Kyle McCord: 21-37, 240 yards
TreVeyon Henderson: 14 carries, 104 yards, TD
Emeka Egbuka: 7 receptions, 96 yards
Picture Credit: Clutchpoints.com