After an 11-point loss in Columbus last September, the Fighting Irish are back with Heisman candidate Sam Hartman to square off with the #6 Ohio State Buckeyes at Notre Dame Stadium. This is one of the biggest matchups in South Bend this century, and Irish fans are hungry for their team to return to the glory days. Can Marcus Freeman knock off his alma mater? We will find out this Saturday Night!
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: 7:30 PM ET on NBC
- Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
- Matchup History: Notre Dame is 2-5 all-time against the Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Meeting 2022: Buckeyes won 21 to 10)
- Current Odds: Ohio State -3.0
Ohio State Details
- Conference: Big Ten
- Head Coach: Ryan Day
- 2023 Record: 3-0 (1-0)
- 2022 Record: 11-2 (8-1)
The current GameDay forecast shows a 10% chance of rain, with a high of 81 degrees and a low of 59.
Ohio State Storylines:
The Buckeyes were a 50-yard field goal away from a national title. Certainly, the matchup with Georgia was not the national championship game, but it may as well have been with the winner getting to face TCU. Ryan Day’s team outplayed the Bulldogs for almost the entire game and ended up suffering a one-point loss, the same Buckeyes team down at halftime to Notre Dame earlier in the season.
Ohio State enters this showdown with a 3-0 record. The Buckeyes defeated Indiana 23 to 3, Youngstown State 35 to 7, and Western Kentucky 63 to 10. Ryan Day has definitely taken care of business entering this weekend’s matchup, and his quarterback, Kyle McCord, has improved each game.
The Buckeyes will have a new quarterback from a year ago. Through three games, Kyle McCord is 53 for 76 (70%) with 6 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, and 1 sack taken. He has 5 attempts for 10 yards on the ground, with no rushing scores.
The rushing attack is headlined by Treveyon Henderson, who has 30 carries for 191 yards (6.4 yards per carry) with 4 rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Heisman candidate Marvin Harrison Jr. has 14 receptions for 304 yards (22 yards per catch) with three touchdowns.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Sam Hartman has an opportunity to become the Heisman frontrunner. Since arriving in South Bend, Hartman has become a leader for the Fighting Irish on and off the field. This year, he is 64 for 90 (71%) with 1,061 passing yards, 13 passing touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.
On the ground, he has been sacked 4 times and has 12 carries for -7 yards. However, those statistics can be misleading since Hartman has 848 career rushing yards. His rushing ability can be the difference in this game, and I am interested to see if Coach Parker has a few more designed runs for him against the Buckeyes.
It will be a “Green Out” at Notre Dame Stadium this weekend.
The Fighting Irish have already announced they are wearing green jerseys, and fans will wear green in the stands, likely with pom poms or towels. I undoubtedly believe the “Green Out” last year against Clemson made the stadium one of the toughest environments in college football.
However, Ohio State Football has only visited South Bend twice in its history (1936 and 1996). For one of the largest fanbases, student populations, and alumni groups in the world, I am willing to bet their fans will likely pay about anything to attend this game. That said, we will see how much red is actually in the stands on Saturday.
How much pressure can the defensive line get on McCord? A key indicator of success for the Irish will be how well they can get pressure on Kyle McCord. Notre Dame has been great this season on getting pressure, but it often involves blitzing linebackers and even secondary players by defensive coordinator Al Golden.
The Fighting Irish get a lot of pressure this year but have only accumulated six sacks. Al Golden will have a delicate balance of rushing four versus bringing pressure against the lethal Ohio State quarterback. An electric crowd and extra adrenaline could help fuel the Irish pass rush this weekend.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Ohio State Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense averages 44 points per matchup, while the Buckeyes allow 7 points per game. Gerad Parker will get his first major test as the new offensive coordinator in South Bend. He was able to make critical adjustments a few weeks ago at NC State.
The Ohio State Defense held the Irish to only 10 points a year ago. But this matchup is in South Bend. Notre Dame has added Sam Hartman, and Estime has been unstoppable on the ground. I give the Irish the advantage.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Ohio State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Ryan Day’s team is averaging 40 points per game, while the Fighting Irish Defense is allowing 12 points per contest. Although CJ Stroud is no longer under center, Kyle McCord has excellent potential as a former 4-Star and #8 overall quarterback in the 2021 class (per 247 Sports).
This is the best secondary the Irish have had in a long time, but I am still not sold on the defensive line getting to the quarterback without blitzing and exposing the secondary. I give the Buckeyes the advantage.
Advantage: Ohio State
Special Teams: Notre Dame’s Spencer Shrader is 3 for 6 with his longest conversion at 54 yards. But, several of his misses were long attempts and his leg could make an impact on Saturday. Conversely, Ohio State’s Jayden Fielding is 3 for 3 with his longest conversion this season at 40 yards.
If Michigan can beat Ohio State in back-to-back seasons, there is no reason Notre Dame cannot upset the Buckeyes under the lights. Last weekend, Georgia looked vulnerable, Alabama played terribly, and Florida State should have lost to Boston College. If there was ever a year for Notre Dame Football to go all the way, it feels like this would be the season.
Last September, I was in the stands for the Notre Dame Ohio State game. Even with Tyler Buchner and Tommy Rees, the Fighting Irish gave the Buckeyes a challenging game. This time, the Fighting Irish will get the victory with Sam Hartman at quarterback and an even better version of Audric Estime from a year ago.
Notre Dame is the better team in this matchup, but they must play like it on Saturday. Turnovers and field position can be the difference in this matchup, and although there will be red in the stands, the Notre Dame fans who are at the game will create an electric environment.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Ohio State 27