Ohio State Owns First Down On the Way to Fiesta Bowl Victory

By Chris Lauderback on January 1, 2016 at 5:33 pm
Barrett led Ohio State to great success on 1st down against the Fighting Irish.

Tallying a season-high 28 points in the first half and adding 16 more in the second to register a comfortable 44-28 win over Notre Dame, the Buckeye offense set the tone with great success on first down throughout the day. 

Scoring four touchdowns on five possessions in the opening 30 minutes, Ohio State chewed up 120 yards on 18 first down plays, good for 6.7 per with a touchdown. Ed Warinner, Urban Meyer (and Tim Beck?) kept the Irish defense at bay with balanced first down playcalling that saw the OSU offense run it 10 times and attempt eight passes. 

The 10 rushes went for 51 yards and a touchdown while Barrett completed six of his eight tosses for 69 yards including a 27-yard connection to Marcus Baugh, a 13-yarder to Curtis Samuel over the middle and a handful of quick hitters to outside receivers such as Mike Thomas for efficient 6-8 yard chunks. 

With Ohio State setting up the offense with 2nd and short for much of the half with just three plays going for no gain (2 incomplete passes) or negative yardage (Zeke -1 yard on one carry), Notre Dame had no answer. 

The second half featured more of the same from an effectiveness standpoint but playing with the lead and trying to keep the defense off the field saw the playcalling shift to the ground game. 

Though the Buckeyes were more predictable, Notre Dame still couldn't answer the bell as Ohio State ran it 14 times on first down in the final 30 minutes for a heady 107 yards on 7.6 per carry. 

The highlight was a 47-yard romp up the gut from Ezekiel Elliott giving Ohio State a 35-21 lead midway through the 3rd quarter. 

With the Slobs controlling the line of scrimmage J.T. Barrett attempted just two passes on first down down the stretch hitting Curtis Samuel for a 15-yard completion on OSU's fourth possession of the second half resulting in a field goal and a 38-21 cushion. Barrett's final first down toss was a throwaway on the ensuing possession which also resulted in a field goal and a 41-28 lead. 

For the game, the Buckeye offense ran it 24 times on first down for 158 yards and two scores and through the air, Barrett connected on seven of 10 first down tosses for 84 yards paving the way for Ohio State to coast to an easy win over the Fighting Irish. 

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