Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud opened up his 2022 Heisman Trophy award candidacy with a crucial performance in the Buckeyes’ non-conference home win over Notre Dame on Saturday. Stroud did not pick up where he left off from the 2022 Rose Bowl Game with a record-breaking showing, although he did anchor two second half touchdown drives to secure the victory against the Fighting Irish.

Numerous NFL scouts were in attendance to watch the game, and many of them sure were there to get a front-row seat to see Stroud lead the Buckeyes offense against a top-five ranked opponent. He orchestrated several keen plays over the course of the matchup, such as the multiple stout throws that he completed down the sideline.

For one, Stroud connected with wideout Emeka Egbuka for a key 16-yard play in the third quarter of the contest. Even as he had multiple Notre Dame defensive players hustling over to attempt to bring him down, Stroud remained cool, calm, and collected to drop in a pinpoint accurate pass to Egbuka.

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman was left in awe after seeing the Buckeyes quarterback complete such plays against his team. Speaking during his post-game press conference, Freeman took some time to laud Stroud, where he noted that the passer’s ability to extend plays and also launch arduous passes showcase why he is an early contender for this year’s Heisman Trophy honor.

“He hit three or four of those,” Freeman said. “He’s going out of bounds and I’m looking at him, and in my mind, I’m saying there’s no way that’s a completion. They ended up being completions. Hats off to him.

“There’s a reason why he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate. … And they got a really good team.”

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Freeman also gave credit to the Ohio State offense for pulling off the comeback that was due to several pivotal plays made in the second half.

“They scored with 13 [17] seconds left in third and they scored at the end of the fourth, and we didn’t respond, and we didn’t keep them out of the end zone,” Freeman said. “I think they had four rushing big plays in the fourth quarter. And that is a heartbreaker for defense.”

Next up for Ohio State will be a non-conference home matchup against Arkansas State next week.