The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s fifth game on the 2023 football schedule will be its most anticipated of the season as the Ohio State Buckeyes make their first trip to Notre Dame since 1996. It’s also only the second time ever that the Buckeyes will be playing under Golden Dome, with that matchup taking place 87 years ago.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is starting his fifth full season and has compiled an impressive 45-6 mark overall. Last season, Day and his team were just seconds away from a national title berth and will be primed to win this contest. For Notre Dame, the Irish will be looking to avenge last year’s opener, which ended in disappointment.
Ohio State Offense: Powerhouse Offense Has New General
The Buckeyes face the difficult task of replacing the prolific C.J. Stroud at quarterback. Stroud threw for over 8,000 yards the past two seasons, a number that helps explain why he was the second overall pick in the NFL draft. To fill that gaping hole, either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown will get the call and have three games to get themselves established before they face the Irish.
A devastating one-two punch at running back will provide a stiff challenge for the Notre Dame defense, with Ohio State having the option of giving the ball to either TreyVeyon Henderson or Miyan Williams. The duo combined for nearly 1,400 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns last season. In addition, each player averaged more than five yards per carry.
The presence of Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka at wide receiver presents enviable targets that rank among college football’s best. The duo combined for 151 receptions and 24 touchdown catches in 2022, Joining them in this area will again be Julian Fleming, who had 34 catches and scored six times in 2022. At tight end, Cade Stover is back after 36 receptions last year, also bringing solid blocking size to open up holes for the running game.
Up front, the Buckeyes lost both starting tackles, a fact that’s nothing to josh about. So, look for Ohio State to insert Josh Fryar on the left side and San Diego State transfer Josh Simmons on the right. The pipeline to the NFL that Ohio State has established in this area figures to continue with guards Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones. Meanwhile, Carson Hinzman is likely starting at center.
Ohio State Defense: Getting Rid of Late Hiccups a Priority
Despite having plenty of talent, the Buckeyes need to see improvements on defense after giving up an average of 39 points per game in their last three contests. Up front, one end slot will be handled by J.T. Tuimoloau, who managed to get into opposing backfields and finished with two interceptions last year. Jack Sawyer will be on the other side after sharing the team lead in sacks. At one tackle spot, Michael Hall will clog things up as Ty Hamilton takes on all comers on the nose.
Middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg’s older brother Liam was previously part of the Irish offensive line. However, Tommy is making his own statement after leading Ohio State in tackles last year. He’s joined in the 4-2-5 setup by Steele Chambers on the weakside. Chambers usually ends up stopping anything that Eichenberg doesn’t.
In the defensive backfield for the Buckeyes, Denzel Burke at left corner appears to be following in the footsteps of other future NFL secondary stars from Ohio State. He’ll be joined by a newcomer in Mississippi transfer Davison Igbinosun, who had 37 tackles and five pass breakups last year. Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor at the safety positions need to come up with more big plays, while the nickel back will be where either Cameron Martinez or Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter lines up.
Ohio State Special Teams: Import for the Kicking Game
Parker Lewis arrives after two seasons at Southern Cal to take over the kicking duties, missing just one extra point and connecting on 26 of 35 field goals. Punter Jesse Mirco is back after delivering a 45.4 average on his boots last season. On the return front, Xavier Johnson is likely to be handling kickoffs and Egbuka will be used on punts.
The Last Time Ohio State Played Notre Dame
Opening up last season in Columbus, a promising start gave way to a second-half inability to stop the Buckeyes’ running game. That resulted in a 21-10 defeat for the Irish after an opening drive in unfriendly surroundings managed to deliver a field goal. Notre Dame did manage to hold a 10-7 halftime lead, but the second half was dominated by Ohio State’s running game, which racked up 172 yards on the night.