DALLAS (FWAA) – Leading the way with nine tackles, Tommy Eichenberg and the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes shut down No. 5 Notre Dame in the last three quarters of a 21-10 win to take the highlight game of college football’s first full weekend. For posting his team-high tackles – six of them solo and three of them for losses to go with a pair of sacks – Eichenberg earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games in the extended weekend of Sept. 3, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
It was an outstanding debut for new Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles as the Buckeyes held the Irish to 10 points but completely controlled the second half, giving up only 72 yards. Eichenberg, a 6-2, 236-pound linebacker from Cleveland and a team captain, plugged the middle and corralled the outside as Notre Dame gained only 23 rushing yards in the second half on 12 attempts, a fraction of its 253 total yards.
But the defensive surge began before that. After taking a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, Notre Dame punted on its final six possessions that followed. The media coverage that followed the game suggested the win marks the beginning of a return to a dominant attacking defense under Knowles, who is already ready to talk about the next game.
“We go through the process,” Knowles said. “That’s our job as coaches. Give them time to celebrate it, then when they come back, we break it down in detail and it’s the process.”
Of Eichenberg’s nine tackles, 6.5 came in the second half along with 2 TFL’s and a third-quarter sack. The fourth-year junior was second on the team with 64 tackles last year. The 10 points were the fewest Ohio State’s given up against a top-five opponent since a 38-7 win over fourth-ranked Penn State in 1996.
Ohio State has a fine history with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy history. Chase Young, a defensive end, won the award in 2019 and linebacker James Laurinaitis took it in 2006. Laurinaitis was a finalist again in 2007 and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer was a finalist in 1997. Young was the last Buckeyes player to earn the weekly award, taking it the weekend of Oct. 26 in his award-winning 2019 season. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (2010), Laurinaitis (2006 and '07) and linebacker Bobby Carpenter (2005) are other previous weekly winners.
Eichenberg, an Ohio State captain whose brother Liam was an FWAA All-American offensive tackle at Notre Dame and drafted by the Miami Dolphins last year, will be added to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list.
The win gives the Buckeyes a 5-2 record all-time against Notre Dame and a five-game win streak in the series dating back to 1955. Ohio State has now won 23 consecutive openers.
Ohio State hosts Arkansas State at Noon ET Saturday in a game broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Each week during the regular season, the FWAA has selected a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week since 2001. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce finalists for the 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 16. The national defensive player of the year will be chosen from those finalists who are part of the 2022 FWAA All-America Team and presented with the trophy at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet on Dec. 5 at the Charlotte Convention Center. N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren will be the keynote speaker.
The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw "Bronko" Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region. Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified, boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies. The Club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches. Through individual and corporate support, nearly $3,000,000 has been raised and donated to benefit the Touchdown Club's scholarship efforts. For more information call 704-347-2918 or touchdownclub.com.