Skull Session: Jaxon Smith-Njigba Remembered Noah Brown's Catch, Ohio State Has Nation's Best Receivers, and 2003 Fiesta Bowl Was a Classic

By Kevin Harrish on December 21, 2021 at 4:59 am
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is raised up in today's skull session.

Tbt to that one time Tyreke Smith beat a dude so badly all he could do was beg his quarterback to get rid of the ball.

Word of the Day: Aggrandize.

 NOAH BROWN VIBES. I understand that we don't exactly love looking back at Ohio State's last game around these parts, but even though the final score (and pretty much everything else) sucked, Jaxon Smith-Njigba had the absolute catch of the year.

And I'm not going to just let us forget about that.

If y'all immediately got flashbacks to Noah Brown against Oklahoma back in 2017, you're certainly not alone. Turns out, even JSN thought about the comparison – as he was making the damn catch.

The sophomore has done his research into the great catches in Buckeye history, though. He had studied Noah Brown’s catch in the end zone against the Sooners, when he reached around his defender, pinned the J.T. Barrett pass against his opponent’s body and held on for a touchdown.


The second team Sporting News All-American said quarterback C.J. Stroud threw the ball expecting to get a pass interference call. His receiver, however, knew what was possible because of what he had seen Brown do.

“Third-and-19, I knew we had to get a first down,” Smith-Njigba said. “It was a big conversion.

“Of course, C.J. threw the ball expecting to get P.I. But I had seen the ball, and I knew I could wrap my arm around it and try to pin it on his back and grab it — which I’ve seen done.”

It still absolutely blows my mind that pass interference wasn't called on that play, but God bless JSN for simply not needing it.

 NATION'S BEST. You probably don't need much outside of a working set of eyes to tell you that Ohio State had the best receiving corps in the country this year, but just in case you needed something to make it official...

It also might be the first time in history that an entire receiving corps was so good it actually *hurt* its quarterback's Heisman Trophy chances, which was a wild narrative considering folks have never had a problem rewarding running backs for running relatively untouched behind incredible offensive lines.

Maybe JSN and C.J. Stroud can simply share the trophy next year.

 INSTANT CLASSIC. The reviews are in, and The Athletic rates Ohio State's 2003 win over Miami as a top-five bowl game of all time.

4. Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3, 2003): Ohio State 31, Miami 24

Sixteen years after losing to Penn State in one famous game in Tempe, Miami returned for something similar against Ohio State, led by Maurice Clarett and a loaded defense. The Canes sent the game to overtime with a last-play field goal, seemingly won in the first OT before a controversial pass interference flag and lost to the Buckeyes in the second OT period. It was the only one of 16 BCS championship games to require extra time, and it ended Miami’s 34-game winning streak.

This is neat and all, but I have beef: Clemson's 29-23 win over Ohio State in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl is also on this list with absolutely no mention of any sort of officiating controversy.

That feels like bullshit if you're going to pull the "controversial pass interference" card on the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, especially since Ohio State would have won the game in regulation if replay review existed, since Chris Gamble absolutely got a first-down that would have ended the game (on a play where he was also held, by the way).

Maybe I'm just searching for something to be mad online about, but it worked.

 MVP. By the purist definition of the term, E.J. Liddell is probably the most valuable player in the country right now.

We're only 11 games into the season, but it's already looking like Liddell's decision to come back to Columbus was objectively correct, and that's always good to see.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry.

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