The Buckeyes were still struggling, and that's about the time fifth-year senior receiv Colorado College Tigers shirter Johnson said a prayer before a third-quarter drive where he showed humility. \"I said, ‘I'm not good enough, I can't do this. I need your strength,'” Johnson said. \"The NCAA Football gear Lord g Campbell Figh

Xavier Johnson

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The top-five showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Notre Dame brought all the larger-than-life stars to Ohio Stadium on Saturday. 

LeBron James, Joe Burrow, Ezekiel Elliott and Jerome Bettis were there. Yet the Buckeyes' 21-10 victory was a fitting homage to former coach Jim Tressel – who was at The Shoe along with members of Ohio State's 2002 national championship team. In this setting, he might still be the brightest star of the bunch. 

"Tressel Ball" returned to Columbus like it never went out of style. The Buckeyes beat the Irish with a mix of defense, special teams and a withering fourth-quarter ground attack. Xavier Johnson, Miyan Williams and Michael Hall Jr. were the out-of-nowhere supporting cast that will resonate in Buckeyes' folklore after yet another victory against the Irish. Afterward, Ohio State coach Ryan Day could not hide a smile. 

"A lot of people questioned our toughness going into the season,” Day said. "Watch the film, and you make the decision whether that team is tough or not. For us to win the way we did; I couldn't be any prouder.” 

Ohio State (1-0) had its toughness questioned in the offseason after last year's losses to Oregon and Michigan – and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who was brought over from Oklahoma State, was the response. Imagine the collective groan on the first play from scrimmage for Notre Dame (0-1). Quarterback Tyler Buchner hit Lorenzo Styles on a hitch route. A missed tackle, 54 yards and a roughing the passer penalty later, the Irish were already in the red zone. Ohio State held, however, forcing a 33-yard field goal by Blake Grupe. 

MORE: Ohio State's defense leads the way past Notre Dame

In fact, the Buckeyes limited the Irish to 76 rushing yards on 30 attempts. Hall Jr. and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg combined for five tackles for loss. Day called the defense, "T UNC vs. Duke Rivalry shirt he story of the night." It did not hurt that Notre Dame started seven of their 10 drives at their own 15-yard line or worse; a nod to punter Jesse Mirco. The defense took advantage of that. 

"You saw guys playing fast too, and the fits were really good,” Knowles said. "Notre Dame does a lot with the tight end and is good at creating different gaps. You saw our guys for the most part fitting things well all night." 

Buchner (10 of 18, 177 yards) still rode a first-half heater to give the Irish a 10-7 ha NCAA Crewneck SweatJerseys lftime lead, and the Buckeyes' offense struggled. Quarterback C.J. Stroud (24 of 34, 233 yards, 2 TDs) was down receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was limited after leaving in the first quarter after an awkward tackle. Ohio State, which led the nation in points and total yards last season, was limited to two plays of 20 yards or more in the first half. 

The Buckeyes were still struggling, and that's about the time fifth-year senior receiver Johnson said a prayer before a third-quarter drive where he showed humility. 

"I said, ‘I'm not good enough, I can't do this. I need your strength,'” Johnson said. "The NCAA Football gear Lord g Campbell Fighting Camels Jerseys ave me strength." 

When the Irish sent two safeties on a third-down blitz outside the Red Zone, Stroud found Johnson for a 24-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the third quar WVU vs. Pitt Rivalry Shirts ter. Ohio State led 14-10, and Johnson doubled down by the making tack Fort Lewis College Skyhawks shirt le at the 13-yard line on the ensuing kickoff.

Stroud presented a different side of Johnson, who could not stop smiling in the postgame press conference either. 

"Xavier Johnson is a dog," Stroud said. "He's kind of crazy in the weight room. He works really, really hard. If you saw him, you would think he was an animal." 

Then, the Buckeyes closed out Notre Dame in the fourth quarter with a 14-play, 95-yard drive with a dozen of those plays coming on the ground. TreVeyon Henderson (15 carries, 91 yards) and Williams (14 carries, 84 yards) took turns hammering at an Irish defense that playe Central Connecticut State Blue Devils shirt d up most of the night for first-year coach Marcus Freeman. Williams' 2-yard TD with 4:51 left started the celebration. 

"Defense and running the ball won this game, but I do think the passing when we really needed it; we were efficient," Stroud said. 

C.J. Stroud

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Stroud is right. It was not the big-splash offense that overtook last year's Rose Bowl. This was a grind-it-out night look; and Stroud adjusted to not having Smith-Njigba by making some clutch throws outside the pocket. Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming should be back for Week 2 against Arkansas State, and the Buckeyes should have time to work out those kinks. 

Nobody thought the offense would be questioned after Week 1, and in this case it is a good thing. Day said a half-dozen times that Ohio State beat, "The No. 5 team in the country.” 

"We have to be able to win that,” Day said. "We have to find ways to win like that. There are going to be games in the Big Ten like that, and Notre Dame is built like some of the teams we play." 

Beyond the Big Ten, a complete team will be needed for a national championship run. No. 1 Alabama beat Utah State 55-0 and No. 3 Georgia beat No. 11 Oregon 49-3 in We NCAA Football Helmets ek 1. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs won the last two national championships, and they look like complete teams. 

Ohio State has that look, too, even if it took a twist against NCAA Crewneck Sweatshirt the Irish.

This is a formula that worked for a national championship 20 years ago for Tressel, who was carried off the field by his former players during a ceremony after the first quarter. The famous clip of Tressel after that legendary BCS championship victory against Miami played on the scoreboard, too. Ohio State fans know this by heart: "We always had the best damn band in the land. Now, we've got the best damn team in the land.” 

This year's Ohio State knew it had in what could be the best damn offense in the land. It does not hurt to have what could Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry Shirts be one of the best defenses behind it, and Knowles said there is more where that came from. 

"There's still a lot of things we haven't shown," Knowles said. "Tonight we were rather basic." 

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