In the game biggest play of the game, Notre Dame was a player short.
On the final play of Ohio State's game-winning 15-play, 65-yard drive, Notre Dame only had 10 players on the field, allowing Chip Trayanum room to score a one-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 17-14 lead with one second remaining.
At first, it appeared as though the Fighting Irish, for some reason, didn't have a down lineman on one side of the field, the same side that Ryan Day decided to run the ball.
On the biggest play of the game, Marcus Freeman didnt have a down lineman on left side of the line. pic.twitter.com/MG6C8RujM6— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 24, 2023
But after further review (and a different camera angle), there was a clear reason for that mishap: Notre Dame only had 10 players on the field for the biggest play of the game. The player missing was the defensive lineman who was supposed to be in that exact spot.
Wait Notre Dame only had 10 players on the field when Ohio State scored its game-winning touchdown with one second left. pic.twitter.com/dcSFaDydF1— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 24, 2023
Notre Dame head coach acknowledged the fact that his team only had 10 players on the field for Ohio State's game-winning touchdown following the game.
"We were trying to get a fourth D-linemen onto the field," Freeman said. "I told him to just stay off because we can't afford a penalty – I didn't have any timeouts – we can't afford a penalty right there."
Looking back, it appears as though Ohio State's game-winner wasn't the only time Notre Dame had 10 players on the field. Following a timeout by Marcus Freeman, the Fighting Irish played a man short on the Buckeyes' second-to-last play of the game, too.
Following Notre Dames final timeout of the game, the Fighting Irish only had 10 players on the field for Ohio States second-to-last play of the game an incomplete pass to Marvin Harrison Jr. and proceeded to not bring on an additional player for the Buckeyes game-winner. pic.twitter.com/chgwsZbolv— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 24, 2023
After the game, Kyle McCord was asked about Notre Dame playing a man short and, while he didn't realize it, admitted that it's something Ohio State's coaching staff likely took advantage of for the game-winning touchdown.
"I didn’t notice it. But the play before, the sprint out, we had a similar look on defense. It might have been the same defensive call. And I’m sure they saw it in the booth and relayed it to Coach Day. I’m sure he saw it on the field," McCord said. "So, as much as I would have liked to complete that pass to Marv in there, I think it was only fitting that we scored that way with Chip."
If Notre Dame was given a penalty, it would have moved Ohio State half the distance to the goal line but given the Fighting Irish a chance to get 11 players on the field. That said, the Buckeyes were already inside the one-yard line. Instead of just taking a penalty, Notre Dame was a man down for the biggest play of the game and Ohio State certainly took advantage of it to get a top-10 win in South Bend on Saturday.