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The Buckeyes Face First Big Test of the Season Against Talented Notre Dame Team
Clash of the Titans. Top-10 matchup. Saturday night showdown. However you want to describe it, Ohio State vs Notre Dame will be the center of the college football world Saturday night under the lights in South Bend.
The sixth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are 3-0 with wins over Indiana, Youngstown State and Western Kentucky. The ninth ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish are one of the few 4-0 teams, handling Navy, Tennessee State, North Carolina State, and Central Michigan.
The Buckeyes are currently 3.5-point favorites with the over/under being set at 54. Both teams have shown offensive and defensive flashes early on in the 2023 season.
Let’s look at Notre Dame first, led by Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, playing his sixth season of college football.
His last two seasons with the Demon Deacons Hartman put up 7,929 passing yards and 77 passing touchdowns with 26 interceptions. So far through four games, he has 1,061 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Junior running back Audric Estime leads the rushing attack with 521 rushing yards and five touchdowns, averaging over eight yards per carry. Senior wide receiver Chris Tyree leads the team 216 receiving yards on eight catches with two touchdowns.
The Fighting Irish are throwing and rushing for over 300 and 200 yards respectively, averaging just over 500 yards per game. They are allowing just 234.3 yards per game and only 126.8 yards through the air.
After being named the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, Junior Kyle McCord had a great display against Western Kentucky finishing with an efficient 19/23 for 318 passing yards and three touchdowns. His season totals through three games are 53/76 for 815 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception.
Just like McCord has taken over the air raid, Junior TreVeyon Henderson has taken over the ground game. He had 13 carries for 88 rushing yards and two touchdowns his previous outing. His season totals are now 30 carries for 191 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison Jr. did things only a top receiver can do once again, as he had a solid statline of five catches, 126 receiving yards and a touchdown against Western Kentucky. After a quiet first game where he was a little shaken up, he still has 14 receptions for 304 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The Buckeyes are passing for 318 yards per game and rushing for 156.7 yards per game. The defense is giving up just 223.7 total yards per game including just 83.3 rushing yards per game.
Neither team has been truly tested through the first few weeks of the season, and this matchup will be the true indication of where each team sits with more big games looming.
Ohio State now has more clarity at a number of key positions after their last game, and should be able to show promise in both aspects of the offense on Saturday night. The key to the game for the Buckeyes early on will be keeping it close and establishing the run, keeping McCord comfortable and avoiding turnovers.
The Buckeye defense has a huge challenge minimizing Hartman and his big play ability through the air. The defensive line will need a huge day as well taking out the run game and forcing Hartman into uncomfortable situations, throws, and decisions.
My keys to the game are limit the big plays, win the turnover battle, and establish the run. All keys whenever facing a tough team on the road in a primetime night game.
When its all said and done, I think the buckeyes will make enough plays when needed to pull away with a well fought win.
Prediction: Ohio State 27 Notre Dame 24
Carson Hutton, a native of New Albany, Ohio, is a contributing writer for The Silver Bulletin. He graduated from Ohio State with a Journalism and Business degree in May 2023, and has written with the team as far back as 2016. In the two years, he has also been a contributor to CityScene Media Group, AutoFinance News, and Last Word on Sports.