Jaxon Smith-Njigba was sidelined from the game on Saturday after sustaining a lower-body injury in the first quarter.
Ohio State entered the game already shorthanded at wideout, as third-year receiver and projected starter Julian Fleming was listed as a game-time decision and did not see any action against the Irish.
“We hope to have them back next week,” head coach Ryan Day said of Smith-Njigba and Fleming after the game. “But we'll have to see.”
According to a report by 247Sports’ Chris Hummer, Smith-Njigba suffered a “low-grade hamstring injury” and is expected to miss “a game or two,” but “should be ready to go in a couple of weeks.” The Buckeyes are set to play Arkansas State and Toledo in their next two games before beginning Big Ten play against Wisconsin.
Smith-Njigba left the top-five matchup against Notre Dame with an apparent leg injury at the 7:01 mark of the first frame after absorbing a hard hit on the sideline by Irish safety Brandon Joseph. He took a screen pass four yards on a first-down play before Joseph knocked him out of bounds with a high hit that appeared to rattle the Texas native.
While the hit appeared to be to Smith-Njigba's head, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe reported during the TV broadcast that it was actually Smith-Njigba's left leg that was rolled up on during the sequence. He went to the medical tent, worked with a trainer on an exercise bike and jogged on the sideline to warm up, ultimately missing two full drives for the Buckeyes.
A closer look at Jaxon Smith-Njigbas leg injury last night. pic.twitter.com/JgUSxGODWb— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 4, 2022
Smith-Njigba returned on Ohio State's second-to-last possession of the first half. Still, the record-setting receiver appeared to be struggling with the injury as Ohio State went to halftime trailing Notre Dame, 10-7. He played briefly in the third quarter before leaving the game for good, taking a spot on the bench with a towel around his head as Rowe reported he was visibly upset.
Without Smith-Njigba or Fleming, Jayden Ballard and Xavier Johnson – who started the year with a combined one collegiate reception between them – saw an uptick of snaps in Brian Hartline's position room. Emeka Egbuka led the Buckeyes with nine receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown, while Marvin Harrison Jr. added five catches for 56 yards.