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 when he raced up the middle for a long run.
Elliott ran for 149 yards and matched a Fiesta Bowl record with four touchdowns, sparking No. 7 Ohio State 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), who were left out of the College Football Playoff, rolled past the Fighting Irish (10-3), quick-hitting their way to one scoring drive after another and 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 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.
The Irish had some good offensive moments behind quarterback DeShone Kizer after Buckeyes star 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 do-everything 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 playoff chance by four points; two-point losses to Clemson and Stanford. Ohio State lost to Michigan State in its penultimate game. Those misses turned the Fiesta Bowl into a talent show with NFL-caliber players.
Two of the best were gone before the first quarter ended.
Smith, the Butkus Award-winning linebacker, had to be helped off four minutes in after suffering what Kelly said was a significant leg injury. Bosa was gone a few minutes later after driving the top of his helmet into the chest of Kizer, long after the Notre Dame quarterback had released the ball.
Ohio State had its way with Notre Dame's defense without Smith in the lineup. Elliott, another potential first-round pick, scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and had another TD run from 2 yards. Barrett accounted for the other score, finding Michael Thomas on a 15-yard TD that put Ohio State up 28-14 at halftime.