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Unnecessary Buckeye Preview – Ohio State Buckeyes at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (pt. 2)

The sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are looking to make a statement in prime time when they face the ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend under the lights Saturday night. Ohio State wants to solidify its claim as the best college football team in America in 2023, while Notre Dame is looking to avenge a 21-10 defeat in Columbus last season. Both teams have had this game circled for months, the winner will have bragging rights and an inside path to the College Football Playoff.

The Buckeye offense has been gaining steam each week following a sluggish opener against Indiana. Ohio State showed tempered improvement against Youngstown State in week 2, and in week 3 the Buckeye offense gave the nation a glimpse of how good it can be, rolling over Western Kentucky at a clip of 9.4 yards per play. When referring to the mentality of the offense, offensive coordinator Brian Hartline simply stated, “We are in power.”

Ohio State flexed its muscle without showing much of the playbook last week, executing nine plays of 20 yards or more against the Hilltoppers, spread among six different players (Emeka Egbuka, TreVeyon Henderson, Marvin Harrison, Jr., Chip Trayanum, Cade Stover, and Carnell Tate). While Trayanum and Tate are not starters, on Saturday you can expect to see the Buckeyes in offensive formations with Henderson, Egbuka, Stover, and Harrison, Jr. on the field at the same time. Ohio State has a plethora of riches, and quarterback Kyle McCord just needs to be efficient distributing the ball.

Ohio State doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses on offense, but the o-line has been mostly retooled from last year’s squad. With three easy games under their belt, they are inexperienced and mostly unproven as a unit. However, I expect Ohio State star power will spread out the Notre Dame defense and give the offensive line additional time to get in position or make a block. All the big men need is an extra split second to gain an advantage every play.

On defense, the Buckeyes are led by linebackers Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg, hard-hitting safety Latham Ransom, and blanket cornerback Denzel Burke. Chambers and Eichenberg have showed tremendous growth since the beginning of 2022 when Jim Knowles took over a defensive coordinator. They are all playing hungry with a nose for the football.

Notre Dame has a talented offense led by graduate transfer quarterback Sam Hartman who transferred from Wake Forest after the 2022 season. Hartman is an experienced quarterback with 13 touchdowns through four games with the Irish, but this will be his toughest challenge of the year. Even if Hartman is successful leading the offense and moving the ball, can the Irish put enough points on the board to match Ohio State?

The answer is no, Notre Dame does not have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Buckeyes. The Fighting Irish will need their defense to step up and make some big plays. If they can accomplish this, they may be able to derail the Buckeye train before it whistles past and keep the crowd in the game and set up a fantastic finish. However, sixty minutes is a long time to keep the Ohio State offense down and I don’t expect that to happen. Notre Dame is a very good team, maybe even playoff caliber, but they are going down hard this weekend to the tune of 38-17.

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