Ohio State’s game-winning drive against Notre Dame was a triumph of quarterback Kyle McCord’s precision passing, wide receiver Emeka Egbuka’s deft pass-catching, and running back Chip Trayanum’s raw power.
It was also, upon further review, an instance of the Fighting Irish beating themselves.
As many observers—including Chris Vannini of The Athletic—pointed out after No. 9 Notre Dame’s heartbreaking 17-14 loss to No. 6 Ohio State, the Fighting Irish had just 10 men on the field for Trayanum’s go-ahead touchdown with one second left. Even more egregiously, the missing man realistically could have plugged the hole Trayanum penetrated to win the ballgame.
Notre Dame had 10 guys on the field for the Ohio State TD, missing a lineman. Right where OSU ran the ball. pic.twitter.com/nz7YsFYhsu— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 24, 2023
Amazingly, Notre Dame also had only 10 men on the field for McCord’s incompletion on the preceding play.
After the game, Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman told reporters he was leery of rushing a defensive end out onto the field with no timeouts and risking an offsides penalty.
Marcus Freeman said he didn't want to take the penalty of rushing a defensive end onto the field without a timeout. Said he didn't want to give Ohio State a free shot.— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) September 24, 2023
However, the touchdown hit exactly where Notre Dame was lacking a defensive end.
Freeman’s caution was costly, as Notre Dame dropped its first game of the season with another tough contest looming next Saturday at Duke.