GLENDALE, Ariz. — If there were any doubts whether Ohio State players were looking forward to their futures prior to Friday's Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes answered those questions quickly.
Ohio State scored early and often against the Fighting Irish en route to a 44-28 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball 27 times for 149 yards with four touchdowns; quarterback J.T. Barrett was efficient with 96 yards on the ground and 211 yards and one touchdown through the air as the Buckeyes racked up 496 yards of total offense.
After a 4-yard touchdown catch by Notre Dame's Chris Brown trimmed the Ohio State lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter, Elliott ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run on the Buckeyes' next possession that made Ohio State's lead insurmountable.
After a 37-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger stretched the Buckeyes' lead to 37-21, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer hooked up with Will Fuller for an 81-yard score to get the Irish back within 10. Nuernberger then later added field goals of 38 and 35 yards to cap the scoring for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes had four first-half touchdowns; Elliott had three of them as Ohio State led 28-14 at the break.
After forcing a three-and-out on Notre Dame's opening series, the Buckeyes drove right down the field on a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Elliott. Ohio State struck again shortly after that, when Barrett connected with Michael Thomas for a 15-yard score.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Notre Dame's Josh Adams brought the Irish within 14-7, but again the Buckeyes answered quickly with a pair of 1-yard scoring runs by Elliott. Kizer's 1-yard touchdown run with just 29 seconds remaining in the first half got Notre Dame within two scores at halftime.
Elliott gained 55 of his hards in the first half on just nine carries. Barrett carried the ball 12 times for 57 times in the first half and was also 10-of-15 passing for 128 yards. The Buckeyes racked up 280 yards of total offense in the first half while holding Notre Dame to just 181 yards despite losing All-American defensive end Joey Bosa to a questionable targeting call in the first quarter.
Ohio State finishes the season 12-1; Notre Dame ends the year 10-3.