The Ultimate Warrior is one of the most successful wrestlers from one of the most important time periods in the history of professional wrestling. During what is now know as the Hulkamania Era (circa 1984-1992), he is one of three men to hold the WWF championship for a considerable amount of time. Warrior did not achieve this with a flashy move set or technical mastery of the sport. His promos, while energized, were often rambling and hard to understand. He wasn't going to put on a 30 minute masterpiece or talk circles around anyone. What he was going to do was melt his opponents with the aura of his presence and the destrucity of his power. When his music hit, heels crapped their pants and trembled in fear as they saw the behemoth rumbling full speed down the ramp towards them. The inevitability of their defeat was assured before Warrior hit the dang ring. Once in the squared circle, warrior didn't play mind games or look for a collar and elbow lockup. He ran the ropes, put his shoulder or bicep into his opponent at lighting speed and slammed them to the mat. He punched and kicked the likes of Hercules Hernandez, The Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, and The Million Dollar Man until they were begging for mercy. Their release from his torture only came after the mass of humanity hoisted them above his head, full press slammed them in the center of the ring and then finished them off with a simple but painful big body slash to their prone bodies. This is how The Ultimate Warrior won, and it is how Notre Dame will (not might) defeat the Bad Seeds of Columbus.
The Irish don't need to finesse their way on offense or run trick plays to beat the Buckeyes. They don't need to have complicated or gimmicky defensive alignments. They just need to line up, punch the Prime Integer in the mouth and stop the run. Wait? What!? (Ooops! That's a terrible gimmick from another famous wrestler). The Irish just need to stop the run? It can't be that easy! Well as sure as Bobby the Brain Heenan got put into a weasel costume during his match with the Warrior, the Irish will beat the Buckeyes if and when they stop the run. But for those of you who think I've been wandering too long in Parts Unknown, here's my reasoning:
In 2021, the only close games for the Buckeyes-those Ohio State won by less than ten points or lost-they mostly struggled to run the ball. Here are the run totals for those 5 contests:
Penn State: 161 (this is an average day for a good football team)
That all adds up to a whopping average of 110.6 yards per game. Not great. Take away PSU's numbers and its a Duke the Dumpster Droese pitiful performance of 98 yards per game. It's as pathetic as The Honky Tonk Man lasting 27 seconds at Summer Slam. Of course, they did win 3 of those 5 contests. Look at the competition, though.
Nebraska finished 3-9, but were within a TD going into the fourth quarter. PSU finished 7-6, but were only down 3 going into the 4th quarter. Utah was a good team, but not as good as Notre Dame. They also gave up nearly 600 yards through the air and were tied with less than 2 minutes left in the Rose Bowl. Oregon-another good-not-as-great-as-ND team gave up nearly 500 yards through the air, and they won (and led for most of the game). The only team to finish "better" than ND on this list was Michigan and they pummeled OSU on the ground but gave up over 400 yards through the air. Stroud broke 400 against Nebraska through the air. Against PSU, he "only" got north of 300; but with that being the best of their running performances on the above list, he didn't need to go full Hulk Hogan.
From this list, it's clear that you don't stay close with OSU and give yourself a chance to win by trying to ground Stroud and his infinite assortment of receivers. You stop the run game and expose their less than stellar O Line run blocking. It's simple. It's painful. It's destrucity.
If the ND D Line and Line Backers are really who everyone says they are, they will be able to step up the task in front of them. Stroud can throw the ball deep all he likes, but OSU will not have a big game on the ground. They can't or ND will lose. They won't. Foskey, Liufau and company won't allow it. And after a half of harassment, Stroud will start to become less accurate. He'll still find receivers down the field and get OSU into ND territory, which will drive us all up the wall. However, the pressure will be solely on his shoulders. All it takes is a well timed blitz and a wild Brandon Joseph or Cam Hart stepping in front of a pass to further turn up the heat just like when The Ultimate Warrior snapped Hercules Hernandez chain. When the Buckeyes do get inside the ND 30, the time will come for a 3rd or 4th down and short run. Just like Rick Rude couldn't flex his biceps and swivel his hips past The Ultimate Warrior, the Buckeyes won't be able to slide past, through or around our front seven. Potential TDs will turn into Field Goals and Turnovers on Downs.
ND has an amazing front seven. Last year they gave up an average of 125 rushing yards per game (that's with Navy on the schedule, so knock that average down by 10-15 yards). That's clearly within the wheel house of being in a close game with an OSU team that has not improved in the run and run blocking game by most accounts (who cares if Kurt Herbstreit aka Bobby The Weasel Heenan and ESPN think about the chances of their running back getting the Heisman). The Front Seven for ND IS BETTER, though, and they were already great last year. And when the ball is snapped and the likes of Foskey, Amendola, Mills, Cross, Lacey, Liufau, Bauer, Kiser, Bertrand, and all the other Warriors of our front seven are crashing down on the chests and backs of the Ohio State run game, they and you will know that they have entered Parts Unknown.
So break down the cockpit door to your fandom, take control of the instruments, point that plane into a nose dive of unrealistic expectations and embrace the destrucity of Notre Dame and it's devastating run defense! Because it will be the thing that stands at the end of the day over the lifeless, soulless husks of the Buckeye program. And what follows will be a glorious march to the National Championship!!!!!!!!! (Snorting/Yelling sounds)