It has been over nine months since the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes have taken to the football field, but that changes tonight as they welcome the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a primetime matchup that is arguably the biggest non-conference game of the 2022 season.
Both teams come into the marquis matchup playing for the first time following major changes over the offseason. Former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach following the pre-bowl game departure of Brian Kelly, who became the new head man at LSU. Though Freeman maintain a significant portion of the previous regime’s staff, he did bring in former Miami head coach and NFL assistant Al Golden to replace him coordinating the defense.
For the Buckeyes, head coach Ryan Day did what he had to and after two-straight disappointing seasons on the defensive side of the ball he replaced everyone on the defensive coaching staff except for the living legend Larry Johnson.
Jim Knowles came to Columbus after turning the Oklahoma State defense into one of the best units in all of college football. He has been charged with taking the Buckeyes' myriad of defensive talent and constructing a scheme that can fully take advantage of all of that athleticism.
While Knowles has been a bit coy when it comes to specifics about what the Buckeye version of his defense will look like, we do know that it will be more aggressive than the pretty passive version OSU fans have seen since Jeff Hafley departed following the 2019 season. We also know that Knowles will run a 4-2-5 scheme, heavily relying on safeties to make plays at multiple levels of the defense.
One thing that is not unknown about the Buckeye team is that they will be led by the Heisman Trophy frontrunner C.J. Stroud and the most explosive collection of wide receivers in college football. Returning after his breakout season is Jaxon Smith-Njigba who will be paired with an impressive stable of blue-chip prospects ready to have a breakout of their own. Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Julian Fleming should all factor into the WR rotation in some configuration or another.
Ohio State opened the week as a 17.5-point favorite over the Irish, but that has been bet down to 16 as of publishing time according to DraftKings Sportsbook. I’m not much of a bettering guy, but that seems well within reach for the Buckeyes.
Despite winning 10 games and claiming a Rose Bowl championship, the 2021 season was a disappointing one for Day’s squad. With the best offense in college football returning and a new look and philosophy on defense, this season is increasingly important to the future of Day’s program. While OSU’s head coach is in no danger of losing his job anytime soon, if the Buckeyes are going to take the next step up the college football ladder, they need to do it this season, and a decisive win over a top-five opponent in the season opener would be the perfect way to to start off the season.
When is the game and how can I watch?
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM
DraftKings Sportsbook line: Ohio State -16 | o/u 59
Money line: ND +540 | OSU -740
Official LGHL Prediction: Ohio State 45, Notre Dame 24
Matt’s Prediction: Ohio State 45, Notre Dame 20
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Below is your Ohio State vs. Notre Dame GameThread. Be respectful, be kind and — as always — keep it classy, BuckeyeNation. If you like GIFs, lay ‘em on us. In all, be good fans, cheer for your teams, be cool to each other (even if somebody else isn’t) and everyone wins. Let’s finish the season strong!