The schedule for the first week of the college football season features three games between preseason top-25 teams, but none carry the weight of No. 2 Ohio State hosting No. 5 Notre Dame. The Buckeyes are one of the most popular picks to win the national championship this season, but those title hopes could be put on the ropes early if they can’t take care of business against an upset-minded Fighting Irish squad. It’s the first regular-season game of the post-Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame, and first-year coach Marcus Freeman, a former Buckeye player with 37 career starts and four Big Ten titles to his name, would love to start the 2022 campaign by taking down his alma mater.
With just seven all-time meetings, Ohio State and Notre Dame have not met nearly as often as you might think considered their respective standing as college football blue bloods. When they do meet it’s almost always a big deal, with Saturday night marking the fourth consecutive meeting with both teams ranked in the top 10 of the polls. Ohio State leads the all-time series 4-2, and the two teams are already scheduled to reunite next season for the back end of this home-and-home in South Bend.
Ohio State and Notre Dame would be worth your attention in any year, but this primetime top-five showdown on the first Saturday of September is a game that will set the tone for two College Football Playoff hopefuls.
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame: Need to know
Big stage for the Heisman Trophy favorite: Preseason Heisman Trophy favorites haven’t always fared as well in the final balloting, in part because of the scrutiny they face on a week-to-week basis. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is the preseason favorite to win the award in 2022, and fair or not his performance in this game will have a lasting impact for many Heisman voters. That’s not ideal considering Freeman had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator before his promotion to head coach, and the fact that Notre Dame might have a top-15 — or even top-10 — unit this season, led by a defensive lineman in Isaiah Foskey. But the flip side argument is also true. If Stroud plays well against this quality opponent on a big stage, he then becomes the man to beat with a quality win that’ll take several weeks for another Heisman contender to match.
Breaking down Notre Dame’s offense vs. Ohio State’s defense: One of the most-discussed coaching moves of the offseason wasn’t even at the head coaching level. Ohio State hiring Jim Knowles as its defensive coordinator could end up being almost as significant as the splashy head coaching changes we saw this past offseason. Knowles is coming off a terrific year at Oklahoma State, and his task is to lead a defense that can be a perfect complement to the explosive offense already in place. The first challenge for Knowles will be a bit of an unknown, however, as the Buckeyes face a new starting quarterback in Tyler Buchner. A blue-chip prospect coming out of high school in California, Buchner saw some limited action as a freshman for the Irish in 2021 as part of a three-quarterback shuffle with Jack Coan and Drew Pyne. Now he’s won the job outright, but takes the field without last year’s star running back (Kyren Williams) and already down a key wide receiver (Avery Davis) due to injury.
An All-American matchup on Labor Day weekend: Ohio State and Notre Dame have nine players combined who were first- or second-team selections to the 2022 CBS Sports Preseason All-America team. The Buckeyes had five with running back TreVeyon Henderson, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and offensive lineman Paris Johnson voted to the first team, while quarterback C.J. Stroud and offensive lineman Dawand Jones made the second team. Notre Dame’s four selections were offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson (first team), defensive back Brandon Joseph (first team), tight end Michael Mayer (second team) and defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (second team). That’s 20% of the 44 position players deemed All-Americans that will be on the field at the same time, adding some legitimate star power to the collision of these iconic college football programs.
How to watch Ohio State vs. Notre Dame live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 3 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium — Columbus, Ohio
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame prediction, picks
Featured Game | Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
In a vacuum or a simulation, Ohio State wins this game by 20 points, but college football is played by humans and the stage is too big to think there will be a blowout on Saturday night. The Buckeyes are playing with all the pressure and there have been some nightmare nights in nonconference play in Columbus. Ultimately, Ohio State is the markedly better team and will win, but this game is interesting just long enough for the Fighting Irish to cover the number. Prediction: Notre Dame +17.5
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