Ohio State proved to be too much for Notre Dame as the Buckeyes trounced the Fighting Irish in a 44-28 win at the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on New Year's Day. Ohio started out dominant with a 14 to zero lead going into the second quarter, and while the Fighting Irish tried to claw their way back with two touchdowns of their own, the Buckeyes proved to be too much of an imposing force on both sides of the ball.
Notre Dame's odds improved when talented Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was ejected from the game for targeting. According to ESPN, the Buckeyes had to make do for most of the game without Bosa when he was flagged for leading with his helmet in a hit against Notre Dame's quarterback DeShone Kizer during only the third defensive play of the first quarter.
This is expected to be Ohio's last game with Bosa on the turf as the junior is expected to be the number one draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Bosa took to Twitter to apologize to Ohio State Buckeye fans.
I'm sorry, I love you buckeye nation.Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot had an impressive four touchdowns for the Buckeyes, matching the Fiesta Bowl record. The Buckeyes racked up an impressive 496 total yards for the game while Notre Dame also impressed with 405.
— Joey Bosa (@jbbigbear) January 1, 2016
The seventh ranked Ohio State had hoped to retain the crown as college football's national champion; however, a stunning loss to Michigan State, Ohio's only loss of the season in fact, kept the Buckeyes from advancing to the conference finals.
Ohio had struggled with some quarterback controversy earlier in the season when the quarterback that held the reigns of last year's Buckeye national championship win, Cardale Jones, was replaced early in the season by the younger J.T. Barrett. On Halloween of 2015, Barrett was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence. Ohio State announced a one-game suspension and that Barrett would also lose his scholarship for the semester. Despite that, Jones remained a backup for the Buckeyes and it was Barrett who would be behind center for Ohio and their Fiesta Bowl win. According to UPI, Jones announced that he will be leaving Ohio to pursue a career in the NFL.
Many feel that Barrett, however, is the key to Ohio returning to next year's national championship and that his performance in the Fiesta Bowl today proved that. Barrett threw 19 for 31, and while the completion rate may not seem an indication of what he can do for Ohio's offense, many fans felt that the fact that Ohio's offensive coordinators were letting him open up the field more often was a sign that the Buckeyes would be more aggressive with their throwing game next year. The fact that Barrett is a mobile quarterback who carried the ball 23 times for 96 yards also means Ohio's offense will be a challenge for defensive opponents.
If anyone is capable of directing Ohio State back to a national championship, it is head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer just completed his fourth season for the Buckeyes, leading Ohio to a record of 50 wins and only four losses during that tenure. Besides Ohio State's championship in 2014, Meyer has two other national championships under his belt from his time with the Florida Gators and two conference titles from his tenure at Utah.
Though Ohio is expected to lose several players besides Bosa and Jones to the draft this season, Meyer's record with the Buckeyes will certainly mean no shortage of recruits as Ohio State carries on in the 2016 season.
[Ohio State cover image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.]