2023 Ohio State University
The Buckeyes come into week four of the season following their most dominant performance of the season capping off the weekend with a 63-10 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Ohio State's offense put together 562 yards as Kyle McCord solidified his spot as QB1 in Columbus. The defense also shutdown one of the nations top passing attacks and forced four turnovers in last Saturday's game. It was without a doubt the teams best performance of the year and one the fans have been waiting for. However, no one will get to rest easy following the big game as an even bigger challenger awaits the Buckeyes this weekend.
Ohio State will hit the road for the second time this season as they once again travel across state lines into the Hoosier state, but this time they drive into one of the toughest environments in the midwest. South Bend, Indiana, the site of Saturday's top college football matchup. Both teams have eyes for the College Football Playoffs, but the likelihood is that this is an elimination game for one of them.
Notre Dame comes in at (4-0) on the season after playing a week 0 game and have yet to have a bye week. They have been led by a ferocious offensive attack that has ranked amongst the best in the nation through their four games. A big thanks in their offensive production this season goes to the nations leading rusher in Audric Estime who has over 100 total yards in each of the teams games this season and is averaging over eight yards per carry with five touchdowns. However, he is not the Fighting Irish's only threat offensively as Sam Hartman has returned to the excellent form that football fans saw from him throughout his Wake Forest career as he has posted over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns with zero interceptions through just four games on the season. The Irish also have five pass catchers including tight end Holden Staes with over 100 receiving yards on the season.
This will be a battle of excellent defense as the Buckeyes have surrendered just 20 points in three games, the lowest amount points allowed in 48 years by an Ohio State defense. Notre Dame brings in a defense this year allowing just 12 points per game and have had two games in which their opponent did not score a touchdown. Both offenses will be tested in this game, but with both teams having prolific offenses and plenty of weapons all over the field this test will not go one way. Neither team to this point in the season has faced much of a test and as such statistics can only paint so much of a picture of how this game will play out.
The two schools have met just seven times in total with Ohio State having won five of those matchups. The last Notre Dame victory over the Buckeyes came back in October of 1936 when they defeated the Buckeyes in South Bend, Indiana 7-2. While both of the defenses that will take the field this Saturday are very good, don't expect such a low scoring affair this time around. The teams met each other in week one of last season and the Buckeyes came out on top 21-10. This was also the game that saw Ohio State lose top wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba just minutes into the first quarter and gave way to the next generation of wideouts in Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr.
The first quarter will be a feeling out process for both of these teams and in moments like those experience tends to shine through. Despite the great performance last week by Kyle McCord he has never seen or experienced an environment like South Bend as a starting quarterback. Nerves are going to affect him early and with the struggles the offensive line has had early in the year expect to see Sam Hartman and his veteran group grab an early lead over the Buckeyes in quarter number one. After one, Notre Dame leads 7-3.
The struggles early won't last long as McCord should settle in to stride following the first quarter jitters. With McCord keeping the Buckeyes offense on the field longer it should allow for the Ohio State defense to stay fresh and perform better in the second quarter. TreVeyon Henderson and Chip Trayanum have busted off their fair share of big runs early in the season and it would be no surprise to see another one in this game. After Notre Dame controls the first quarter, the Buckeyes take the second and take a 17-14 lead into the half.
Ryan Day and Marcus Freeman have both shown tremendous ability to light a fire under their teams going into the second half and this when the defenses will come to play. After a combined 31 points in the first half, both defenses come out and pitch third quarter shutouts and send this game to the fourth quarter in a one score contest.
With just one quarter to go the Buckeyes will focus in on the run game offensively to limit Sam Hartman's time on the field and keep this game low scoring. With the pressure on late this game will likely come down to the final possession after the two teams split touchdowns in the fourth.
Prediction: Ohio State wins 27-21
Ohio State's defense will have their hands full with the Notre Dame offense and this weeks game should give a lot of insight into what this team is truly made of after what many people would describe as a disappointing start to the season through three weeks. Hartman and Estime will force Ohio State to be quick with their reads and get pressure onto the quarterback. A clean pocket for Hartman likely gives the Irish the win. This is also the biggest game in Kyle McCord's young career and it will be no easy task on the road. His predecessor in C.J. Stroud had well documented struggles in ranked matchups and this will be McCord's first chance to write his own legacy at Ohio State.
Betting Line: OSU -3.0 | O/U 55.5
In a game that is nearly guaranteed to be a close ball game betting becomes very difficult to predict. That is why this is just a three point spread and while I do have the Buckeyes winning by that margin, the safer bet is to take Notre Dame at +3. The Irish have the experience and ability to win this game, but Ohio State has all that and history on their side going into this Saturday's matchup. With such a small spread I wouldn't suggest betting on either team to cover. The over/under is a bit more interesting. Ohio State struggled offensively until they took on WKU last week when they posted 63 points, but Notre Dame has scored over 40 points in every game so far. My predicted score is 48 points total between the two which would be one touchdown off of the over. A scoreless third quarter is what I predicted, but with the power of these offenses I wouldn't be surprised to see that not be the case. The over looks like the better bet between these two offenses.
How to Watch
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
- Noah Eagle (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analysis), Kathryn Tappen (sideline)
Radio: 97.1 (The Fan) WBNS-FM/1460 AM
- Paul Keels (play-by-play), Jim Lachey (analysis), Matt Andrews (sideline)