7:35 pm
September 3

#5 Notre Dame @ #2 Ohio State

Who will WIN this matchup?

#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0)

@ #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0)


Current odds:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: (+546)

Ohio State Buckeyes: (-833)


• The spread for this game is Ohio State by 16.5 points.

• The first game of the season for two storied programs could have implications for January when No. 5 Notre Dame plays on the road against No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night at Columbus, Ohio. While the loser will not automatically be eliminated for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff, no two-loss team has ever been selected for the playoff, which began in the 2014 season.

• That is a lot of pressure for both schools, but maybe more so for Ohio State (11-2 last season). Despite a 48-45 win over Utah in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, the Buckeyes had a subpar season by their lofty standards. Ohio State lost 35-28 at home to Oregon in the second game of last season and were manhandled by Michigan 42-27 in the regular-season finale. It was the Buckeyes’ first loss in the heated rivalry since 2011.

• The Fighting Irish (11-2 last year) are well regarded even with a novice in charge. Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Marcus Freeman was promoted to head coach on Dec. 3 to replace Brian Kelly, who left for LSU.

• Freeman, an Ohio State linebacker from 2004-08, said Monday that sentimentality will take a backseat during his team’s visit to Columbus. The priority is to have his team prepared to face Heisman Trophy candidate C.J. Stroud, Ohio State’s quarterback.

• Stroud, entering his third season at Ohio State but his second as a starter, threw for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdowns against six interceptions last season when he was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

• Freeman’s key to a Notre Dame victory is a determined rush defense.

• For Notre Dame, Tyler Buchner will make his first start at quarterback, although he played in 10 games as a freshman last season.

• The Fighting Irish could be without All-America candidate Jarrett Patterson, a left guard, because of a foot sprain. That could be a problem against the new-look Ohio State defense under coordinator Jim Knowles, who was lured from Oklahoma State, where he produced one of the top defenses in the nation. However, Notre Dame had some success against him in a 37-35 loss to the Cowboys in the Fiesta Bowl last season.

StreakSmarter Pick
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes