Notre Dame Football will play Ohio State for the first time since 1995. The Buckeyes enter the game heavily favored and are one of the top picks to win the national championship this year. Although the Irish enter this meeting as the No. 5 team in the country, no one is giving Marcus Freeman’s team a chance. Can Coach Freeman provide the program with the win it so desperately needs? Fans will find out Saturday night under the lights.
Essential Game Information:
- Time to play: Saturday, September 3 at 7:30pm ET on ABC
- Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
- History of matches: Notre Dame is 2-4 all-time against the Ohio State Buckeyes (Last meeting 2016: Ohio State won 44-28)
- Current Odds: Ohio State -17.0
Ohio State Details:
- Conference: Big Ten (East Division)
- Head coach: Ryan’s day
- 2021 registration: 11-2
- 2020 registration: 7-1
The current GameDay forecast shows a 10% chance of rain with a high of 84 degrees and a low of 61.
Ohio State Histories:
Ohio State projects a bounce-back season. Although the Buckeyes finished 11-2 with a Rose Bowl win, they did not beat Michigan, win the Big Ten or win a national championship. However, Ryan Day is eager to get back to the College Football Playoff, and many pundits predict they will face Alabama for the national title.
Heisman candidate CJ Stroud leads the Buckeye offense. Last fall, in just his first season as the starting quarterback, Stroud went 317 for 441 (72%) with 4,435 passing yards, 44 pass breakups and six interceptions. On the ground, Stroud had 32 attempts for -20 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns (the 13 sacks he got last year are included).
There are some names to watch out for in the Buckeye offense. The rushing attack is led by running back TreVeyon Henderson. In 2021, Henderson had 183 attempts for 1,248 yards (7 yards per carry) with 15 rushing touchdowns. Ohio State also has the best wide receiver room in the country with projected starters Jaxon Smith-Njiba, Julian Fleming and Marvin Harrison Jr.
Notre Dame Stories:
Do the Irish have a chance to pull off an upset? If Oregon and Michigan were able to beat Ohio State last fall, there’s no reason Notre Dame can’t. The Buckeyes will be even better than last year, but Notre Dame has a better team than the Wolverines or Ducks in 2021.
Tyler Buchner faces a significant challenge in week one. Notre Dame’s new starting quarterback needs to use all of his ability on the road. Buchner has a strong arm and elite rushing ability. His ability to run in a top-five matchup like this could give the Irish opportunities against the Buckeye Defense.
Notre Dame should be dominant up front. The scrum line will be vital to an Irish win. Although preseason All-American Jarrett Patterson is a game-time decision, Notre Dame’s Offensive Line has the opportunity to be one of the best units in college football. Establishing a running offense will be vital in controlling the ball and setting up the passing game.
Likewise, the defensive line is led by preseason All-American Isiah Foskey and should create pressure against superstar quarterback CJ Stroud. Notre Dame Football is built from the trenches and the Irish need to use their size in this key road game.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Ohio State Defense: Tommy Rees is one of the best offensive minds in college football, but he lost his punter Kyren Williams and leading receiver Kevin Austin Jr. from a year ago. The Irish know they have an elite offensive line, but utilizing their speed and young talent at quarterback, running back and wide receiver will be a major question mark.
Conversely, Ohio State’s defense struggled against the run last season and was the main reason they lost to Oregon and Michigan. However, the Buckeyes brought back defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State and are willing not to make the same mistakes again.
There are a lot of question marks about Notre Dame’s offense. This match is a draw.
Ohio State Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Along with Alabama, Ohio State has one of the best offenses in the country. CJ Stroud is a Heisman favorite and he will be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Al Golden and the Fighting Irish Defense will have their work cut out for them. The national media forgets that Notre Dame’s defense returns countless players from a year ago, and they look to create 41 sacks in 2021.
Ohio State has the upper hand in this category.
Advantage: Ohio State
Special teams: Notre Dame will return to offensive lineman Blake Grupe this fall, a transfer from Arkansas State. Grupe is 64 for 86 (74%) in his college career, with his longest reach being 50 yards. Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles is 39-for-48 (81%) with a career-high 49 yards.
There is no particular advantage on special teams.
College football is finally back, and the Fighting Irish will be part of a rare top-five matchup in Week 1. From the get-go, Marcus Freeman can change Notre Dame’s “Big-Game” narrative. Everyone across the country will be picking Ohio State, and many will favor the Buckeyes by some score.
Ohio State is No. 2 for a reason, and they return a core group of players. However, people forget that Notre Dame brings a talented team and is #5. The Irish finished 11-2 last year, and the two losses were both self-inflicted.
I have the Ohio State Buckeyes winning at home by 11 points. Now, Notre Dame has a better chance than the media is giving them. If the Irish can create a rushing attack and prevent big plays on defense, this game could be decided late in the 4th quarter. That said, I will be traveling to Ohio Stadium on Saturday to cheer on my beloved Irish from the stands in hopes that they can pull off the most important win of all time for Notre Dame fans.
Forecast: Ohio State 38 Notre Dame 27