Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State runs all over Notre Dame, 44-28

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State runs all over Notre Dame, 44-28

Would Ohio State have a letdown, they wondered?

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Not a chance.

The reigning nation champ showed no signs of a hangover after missing out on the second annual College Football Playoff, looking impressive en route to a 44-28 victory over Notre Dame on Friday in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

BEST OF THE FIESTA BOWL

Best play: This one came from the losing team, but the DeShone Kizer-to-Chris Brown touchdown pass in the third quarter was a thing of beauty. The pass was on the money, and the catch was nice, too.

Best player: Ezekiel Elliott. Playing in his final college game, the star junior ran for 149 yards and four touchdowns, which tied a career-high, set in last season’s championship game vs. Oregon. He also added 30 yards receiving on a pretty play down the sideline.

Best moment: To celebrate his fourth touchdown run of the day, Ezekiel Elliott flashed Joey Bosa’s signature shrug. The two-time Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.

Best stat: 12, the number of touchdown runs for Ezekiel Elliott in four career postseason games, after torching Notre Dame for four scores.

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GRADES

Offense: A. Ezekiel Elliott was at his usual playoff best, running for 149 yards and four touchdowns, which tied his career-high, and J.T. Barrett showed his dual-threat abilities, throwing for 211 yards and a score and running for 98 yards. The Buckeyes finished with 498 total yards.

Defense: B+. There was no Adolphus Washington and Joey Bosa was ejected midway through the first quarter, and yet the Buckeyes held the high-powered Fighting Irish to 28 points and 402 total yards.

Special teams: A-. The kickoff coverage was strong, Sean Nuernberger hit a trio of field goals (37, 38  & 35 yards), and Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel were solid in the punt and kick return game, respectively. Ohio State did kick a pair of kickoffs out of bounds, though.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

It was over when: Ezekiel Elliott exploded for a 47-yard touchdown, his fourth scoring run of the day, moments after Notre Dame came up with a big scoring play to cut the deficit to seven points midway through the third quarter.

A look toward 2016: The Buckeyes will lose a lot of top-end talent, but this is Ohio State and Urban Meyer still is the coach. There will be no shortage of playmakers and NFL talent on the roster next season. Also: J.T Barrett returns under center as the full-time and unquestioned starter, which should benefit the offense.

Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor

BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men's basketball for BTN.com. Find all of his work here. Follow him on Twitter, too (@BTNBrentYarina). Looking for BTN on TV or tablet? Bookmark our TV schedule and BTN2Go event schedule.

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