College football bettors got reacquainted with the action during a short schedule last Saturday, and now they’re being asked to ramp up their games quickly with a huge Week 1 collision between the Notre Dame Fight Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ohio Stadium
Spread: -17 (-110)
Over/Under: 58.5 (-110)
It is easy to build up hype and drive network ratings when you have a top 5 matchup, especially one between two such storied programs like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes.
It’s also easy to confuse the situation when there’s such a huge disparity between the two sides as there is with a spread at top sportsbooks like we have with the 17+ points Ohio State is favored by against Notre Dame.
How Can Notre Dame Overcome the Odds?
It is certainly a helluva’ way for Marcus Freeman to begin his career as head coach in South Bend. Freeman insists he wasn’t aware the spread was that large, but that’s just an answer coaches routinely give the media when the questions about spreads are put to them.
“I haven’t paid much attention to the spread,” Freeman told reporters in advance of his Notre Dame debut. He noted the team would use the large spread as motivation.
Freeman isn’t just making his Notre Dame debut, but his debut as head coach, period. In addition to the 36-year-old starting off as a huge underdog, Freeman is going up against the school he played for from 2004-08, and where he started his coaching career as a grad assistant in 2010.
How Can Ohio State Beat the Odds?
Freeman said Notre Dame would focus on stopping the Ohio State rushing attack, which is much easier said than done against Ryan Day’s high-octane offense that has Heisman Trophy candidate CJ Stroud back under center.
The Buckeyes did have a solid run game a year ago and have the uber-talented TreVeyon Henderson returning as the feature running back. Henderson rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 15 scores in 2021.
But it was Stroud and the passing game that shredded defenses last season when Ohio State led the nation averaging 45.7 points per game. Stroud threw for more than 4,400 yards and 34 scores last season and was picked off just six times while completing nearly 72% of his aerials.
Irish Have Top-Notch O-Line
It won’t be as easy as slowing the Ohio State ground game, something Freeman is fully aware of after serving as the Notre Dame defensive coordinator last season under Brian Kelly. The Fighting Irish are also going to have to put some points on the board.
To that end, Notre Dame has an experienced offensive line to give sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner time to find his big tight end Michael Mayer downfield. The Fighting Irish are also going to have to get their own ground game going behind that offensive line.
Buckeyes Look for Improved D in ‘22
As athletic as the unit was a year ago, Ohio State didn’t always get the job done on defense. The Buckeyes closed their season giving up 42 points in a loss at rival Michigan, then allowed 45 in a shootout victory over Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Day ended up rebuilding his defensive coaching staff and is turning to Jim Knowles, formerly of Oklahoma State, as the coordinator. Knowles will have a mix of upperclassmen and freshmen up front on the defensive line, and a classic Buckeye linebacker returning in Tommy Eichenberg.
Last 2 Meetings Came in Fiesta Bowls
Being a double-digit favorite over Notre Dame in a marquee matchup is nothing new for Ohio State. When the teams last got together in January 2016 at the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes were giving up 11½ and skated past the Fighting Irish in a 44-28 final.
That was the fourth consecutive win in the rivalry for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes have the all-time lead at 4-2 with Notre Dame’s two wins coming during the FDR administration.
That 2016 Fiesta Bowl final is very close to the OddsTrader’s college football computer picks for this collision, that projection showing the Buckeyes on top in a 46-30 outcome.
Will it Be a Scoreboard Buster at The Shoe?
Along with all of the hype for the game down on the turf between the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes, there’s also going to be some hype all season long about Ohio Stadium itself as the venerable old structure celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Our free college football pick is the stadium’s birthday party gets started with a lot of action from goalpost to goalpost, and the final goes well beyond the total.
NCAAF Pick: Over 58½ (-110) at BetMGM