If you’re like every other Buckeye fan, you’re counting down the days until Sept. 3. Ohio State is opening its season with a bang, as Notre Dame is coming to Columbus. The Fighting Irish are a preseason Top 10 program, and while I do agree with the fact that they will be a quality team, I’m confident that the game between the two teams will end in only one way: a blow out by the Scarlet and Gray.
I think ND is going to have a shaky start to its season. Between first-year head coach Marcus Freeman and first-year starting quarterback (most likely) Tyler Buchner, it’s going to take them a few games to figure out what works best for them. They can practice all they want, but nothing will be able to prepare them for coming into The Shoe for Ohio State’s season opener.
Remember when Stroud and the Buckeyes weren’t looking like themselves against Minnesota in the first game last season? Well, now I think the script is going to be flipped. Stroud has a full season under his belt, and now his first game of the season will be at home, therefore he should feel a lot more comfortable.
Truly, I don’t think the Fighting Irish will be able to contain the Buckeyes’ offense. Yes, they do have a really strong defensive line, but their secondary is going to be interesting. Star safety Kyle Hamilton went pro after last season, and transfer Brandon Joseph is looking to fill that role. They definitely have some potential to have some breakout players this season, but that remains to be seen — they actually have to play a few games first.
I’ve said it before, but I think having a whole new slew of receivers besides Jaxon Smith-Njigba is going to be extremely beneficial in this first game against ND. The lack of film that teams have on Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, etc. is definitely going to be an advantage early on, as defenses won’t know how to stop them as they continue to run up the score!
Obviously one of the biggest advantages for Ohio State is the fact that they are home. There’s nothing quite like a sea of 100,000 fans donned in scarlet and gray rooting against a first-year QB. I predict Buchner is going to be extremely nervous, which will be transparent by the way he plays.
So I’ve made it clear that I believe Ohio State’s offense is going to put up a bunch of points. However, in order for a blow out to happen, obviously the other team must not score a bunch of points. In comes the new and improved defense brought to you by Jim Knowles.
Let’s break down the defense. In terms of pressuring the QB, I believe there will definitely be improvement. Knowles’ defense at Oklahoma State had 56 sacks last season, and his squad led the Big 12 in sacks twice during his four years. I predict an increase in sacks for the Buckeyes this year, coming especially from Zach Harrison, Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau. I see this coming immediately against ND, too, as their breakout performances have been year(s) in the making.
Additionally, the secondary is going to limit the Fighting Irish’s attempt to build upon their pass game. Between Ronnie Hickman, Denzel Burke and OKST transfer Tanner McAlister, they are going to absolutely shut down this offense, and produce some turnovers. I might even bet there’s going to be a pick-six from one of them in this game.
There you have it, folks. I cannot WAIT until Sept. 3. So close, yet so far away. We get to see year two of Stroud & Company, plus the shiny new defense Knowles is currently crafting. All of this will be on display against ND, led by former Buckeye Marcus Freeman. Does it get any better than this?