Big Plays, 3rd Down Defense Doom Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl

Tempe, AZ ( — Touchdown plays of 60, 56, 68, and 85 yards coupled with a 75% conversion rate on 3rd down gave Ohio State a 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night.

Notre Dame came storming out of the gates on offense, scoring on the first possession of the game, but Ohio State’s defense would settle in while Notre Dame’s defense seemed to have missed the bus to the stadium.

Despite, the big plays for Ohio State, the Irish had a chance to put the ball in the hands of their offense to tie it, but two third down conversions by Ohio State from 9 and 11 yards ended that hope. Facing a 3rd and 11, Troy Smith broke a tackle, spun around, and completed a pass to Anthony Gonzalez for a first down.

Ronald Talley got his hands on Smith, but as he did all game, Smith broke loose and killed the Irish with Ohio State’s 8th third down conversion in 12 tries. Antonio Holmes then put the final nail on the coffin with a 60 yard touchdown run.

Big plays were the story for the Notre Dame defense the past few years and they haunted Notre Dame against the Buckeyes again tonight. The Irish defense had no answer for Ted Ginn and Santonio Holmes.

Gin started his day with a 56 yard touchdown catch when Ambrose Wooden tried to jump the short route to Holmes leaving Gin wide open. Gin would then add a 68 yard touchdown run on an end around with some nifty moves to get into the end zone.

Holmes got into the action with an 85 yard touchdown catch which came after Smith converted a third and long by scrambling.

Offensively, the Irish could not get much going after their opening drive ended with a Darius Walker 21 yard touchdown. The Irish put up just 7 points in the first half and would not score again till just over 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter when Walker ran in his 2nd touchdown of the game from 10 yards out.

Notre Dame cut it to 7 points in the 4th quarter when Walker reached the end zone for the 3rd time, this time from 3 yards out, but the defense could not stop Ohio State to give them the chance to tie it.

Ohio State beat up on Brady Quinn who failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this year breaking his record streak of games with a touchdown pass. Quinn was sacked 5 times while the Buckeyes took away the Notre Dame deep passing game.

The only area of the game in which the Irish played well was special teams, and even in that department, they missed an extra point. Notre Dame’s field goal block team however blocked two Ohio State field goals which kept the Irish in the game despite being out gained 618 to 349.

The loss keeps Notre Dame winless in bowl games since 1994 and kept the Irish from reaching the 10 win mark for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

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