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Ezekiel Elliott, No. 7 Ohio State topple No. 8 Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, right, rushes for 149 yards and four touchdowns against Notre Dame.

Columbus Dispatch/TNS

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, right, rushes for 149 yards and four touchdowns against Notre Dame.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ezekiel Elliott bulldozed his way into the end zone in the first half, showing off his strength as Ohio State's drive capper.

He flashed his speed in the second, becoming the show stopper as he raced up the middle for a long run.

Those skills should translate well in the NFL. They worked out for the Buckeyes over the past three seasons.

Elliott ran for 149 yards and matched a Fiesta Bowl record with four touchdowns to close his college career, sparking No. 7 Ohio State's prolific offense Friday in a 44-28 win over No. 8 Notre Dame.

"With all due respect to all the other running backs in Ohio State history, my first-round draft pick, I'd pick Zeke Elliott," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "He's as good as any running back I've been around."

Ohio State (12-1) rolled past the Fighting Irish (10-3), quick-hitting its way to 496 total yards.

Elliott, who's leaving school early for the NFL, scored on three short runs in the first half and left Notre Dame defenders flailing as he raced past them for a 47-yard score to open the second.

J.T. Barrett gave the Buckeyes some balance, throwing for 211 yards and a score to go with 96 yards rushing in the highest-scoring game against Notre Dame's defense this season.

Ohio State's seniors finished 50-4, tying the Division I-A record set by Boise State's 2011 class for most wins in a four-year span.

"It's been a wild journey with this team, something I couldn't even imagine," cornerback Eli Apple said.

The Fighting Irish had some good offensive plays behind DeShone Kizer after Buckeyes All-American defensive end Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.

Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith, the Butkus Award winner as the nation's best linebacker, left in the first quarter with what coach Brian Kelly called a significant leg injury.

"The guy is so impactful on our defense," Kelly said. "You lose a guy like that early on, it significantly affects what you're doing defensively."

The Buckeyes missed the College Football Playoff after an inopportune loss. They might leave the desert wondering what could have been after blowing past another late-season playoff contender. Ohio State lost to Michigan State in its penultimate game and had to watch the Spartans join fellow one-loss teams Alabama and Oklahoma in the playoff.

Ezekiel Elliott, No. 7 Ohio State topple No. 8 Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl 01/01/16 [Last modified: Friday, January 1, 2016 10:07pm]
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