While Woody Hayes turned over in his grave, Notre Dame’s defense just turned and ran. Concerns about the susceptibility of the Irish defense proved wellfounded Monday, when zippier Ohio State rolled up an opponent’s bowlrecord 617 total yards and had four scoring plays of at least 56 yards.
"If they are nickel-and-diming you, getting five and 10 (yards at a time), you can live with it and say they’re physically kicking your butt,’’ Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said.
"But when you give up that many big plays, that is disappointing.’’
Ohio State had 342 yards passing and scored on pass plays of 56 and 85 yards. They also scored on runs of 68 and 60 yards.
"They had too many big plays,’’ Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski said.
"If you took away the big plays, we didn’t really have much trouble stopping them. But that one reverse and a couple of big passes. . . .’’
The most yards against Notre Dame (9-3) this season had been 514 by Purdue.
Over the last four regular season games, the Irish had given up 336, 221, 314 and 296 yards -- an average of 292 a game. Ohio State had 301 yards at halftime.
"We didn’t handle our responsibilities. We have to be more disciplined,’’ safety Chinedum Ndukwe said.
Ohio State’s 56-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn in the first quarter and its 85-yarder to Santonio Holmes in the second came on coverage mistakes, Zbikowski said.
Zbikowski and Ndukwe blamed themselves for the first play, when Ginn was 10 yards behind any defender down the left sideline.
Holmes was five yards past Ndukwe on his 85-yard reception.
"I just got caught up in the play action,’’ Ndukwe said. "He beat me straight up.’’
The Irish said Ohio State has good speed at the skill positions but said that was not a big factor. "They’re fast guys, but I don’t think that was the issue,’’ Ndukwe said. "We play against speed every week. We’ve played against the fastest guys in the country.’’
Halfback Darius Walker had 90 yards rushing and concluded his breakout sophomore season with three touchdowns, on runs of 20, 10 and 3 yards.
"We found a little wrinkle in their defense, I think,’’ said Walker, who gained most of his yardage on a delayed handoff up the middle.
"We played a great team, but we didn’t play to our potential. We didn’t play our game.’’
Quarterback Brady Quinn threw for 286 yards and completed 14 passes in a row at one stretch of the second half, but he was sacked five times and his longest play was 28 yards.
A.J. Hawk, who is dating Quinn’s sister, Laura, had two sacks.
"He showed up today and had a great game,’’ Quinn said. "I’m sure he’s got a bright future in the NFL. . . . He was amped.’’