Five things we learned from Ohio State’s victory over Notre Dame

·5 min read

Maybe it didn’t go quite as expected, but Ohio State held serve at home, found some toughness, and elbowed its way to a win against a top-five opponent 21-10 on Saturday night.

There’s clearly still some work to do, but it’s really hard to judge a team after just one game, and one against what looks to be a pretty good defense at that. At the end of the day, the Buckeyes are 1-0 and still staring at all of its goals right on the table, with some tape now to use for improvement.

After every game, we take stock of what we just saw and pick out five major observations to share with you. Here’s what we think we know after the gut-check win over Notre Dame.

The defense answered the bell

The number one thing all Ohio State fans were looking for Saturday night was the play of the retooled defense courtesy of new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. It’s just one game, but we say things were as good as advertised tonight.

Notre Dame clearly has some limitations offensively, especially on the outside, but the offensive line is a good one, Tyler Buchnel can cause issues with his legs, and tight end Michael Mayer is as good as they come. Yet, Ohio State allowed just 10 points and 253 total yards.

The unit was aggressive, showed a lot of emotion, and was assignment sound for the most part. Let’s hope it continues the rest of the way.

Toughness? Yeah, Ohio State has toughness.

Coming into this one, and mostly through the Ryan Day era, Ohio State has forged a perception that it can be bullied. And the thing is, Michigan, Oregon, and even Nebraska, showed that that might have been true last year.

However, against very physical lines on both sides, the Buckeyes had to bull its britches up in this one. With the Fighting Irish forcing Ohio State to be patient and have to work for everything on offense, the OSU had to be physical and even sealed the deal with some hard, clutch runs by Miyan Williams, as he starred on a game-clinching fourth-quarter.

Hats off to Notre Dame

Notre Dame came into this game as a 17-point dog. I didn’t buy it in the first place because I knew the team would take on the personality of its coach and former Buckeye, Marcus Freeman. The Irish competed, made life difficult, and put together a game plan that had this thing in doubt long into the fourth quarter.

The Golden Domers are in good hands with Freeman running the show, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Notre Dame give teams fits the rest of the way with the toughness and competitiveness the proud program displayed tonight.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba means a lot to this team

All the talk coming into this season focused on C.J. Stroud and that talented wide receiving corps he had at his disposal. Hold the phone. Jaxon Smith-Njigba went down early after rolling his ankle on the sideline, and the offense sputtered and smoked for most of the game.

Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr, as well as Julian Fleming and company are really, really good receivers, but Smith-Njigba is clearly the cog in the wheel that keeps things rolling. Now, some of it had to do with the scheme and play of Notre Dame, but OSU needs its star receiver to be healthy in order to make this offense hum.

Miyan Williams is going to be needed big time this year

Everyone likes to point to TreVeyon Henderson as the dynamic, feature back for Ohio State, and that’s true. But don’t forget about Miyan Williams. He was just what the doctor ordered in this one when it came to time to win the game with toughness and grit and finished just behind Henderson in leading the team in rushing tonight (91 to 84 yards).

There’s no doubt about which back is the game-breaker, but sometimes you have to just hand it to a guy that’s going to lean on the defense and get those extra yards after contact when called upon. Williams was that ane more tonight, and it won’t be the last time he’ll have to jump in the telephone booth late.

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire