Fi­esta Bowl.

Ezekiel El­liott bows out in a big way as No. 7 Ohio State dom­i­nates No. 8 Notre Dame 44-28.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Mar­shall

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 half, be­com­ing the show­stop­per as he raced up the mid­dle for a long run.

Those skills should trans­late well in the NFL. They cer­tainly 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 the cur­tain on his col­lege ca­reer, spark­ing No. 7 Ohio State’s pro­lific of­fense in a 44-28 win over Notre Dame on Fri­day.

“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.”

The Buck­eyes (12-1) were left out of the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off thanks to an inop­por­tune loss. They may leave the desert won­der­ing what could have been af­ter blow­ing past an­other late-sea­son play­off con­tender.

Ohio State rolled past the Fight­ing Ir­ish (10-3), quick-hit­ting its way to one scor­ing drive af­ter an­other and 496 to­tal yards.

El­liott, who is leav­ing school early for the NFL draft, 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 half.

J.T. Bar­rett gave the Buck­eyes some bal­ance, throw­ing for 211 yards and a score 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 FBS 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,” Ohio State cor­ner­back Eli Ap­ple said.

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

They just couldn’t keep up with the blis­ter­ing Buck­eyes af­ter a string of in­juries, in­clud­ing los­ing star line­backer Jay­lon Smith to a knee in­jury in the first quar­ter.

“The guy is so im­pact­ful on our de­fense,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “You lose a guy like that early on, it sig­nif­i­cantly af­fects what you’re do­ing de­fen­sively.”

Notre Dame missed its CFP chance by four points: two-point losses to Clem­son and Stan­ford.

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.

Chris­tian Petersen, Getty Im­ages

Ohio State wide re­ceiver Michael Thomas catches a touch­down pass against Notre Dame cor­ner­back Nick Watkins dur­ing the first quar­ter of the Fi­esta Bowl in Glen­dale, Ariz., on Fri­day. The Buck­eyes wrapped up a 12-1 sea­son with a 44-28 vic­tory over the Fight­ing Ir­ish, who fin­ished 10-3.

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