In one of the most fascinating non-conference matchups so far this season, #6 Ohio State will travel to #9 Notre Dame for a Midwestern top-ten clash. Get Ohio State vs. Notre Dame odds, predictions, and picks below as our best bet is Notre Dame +3.5.
Ohio State Vs. Notre Dame Prediction & Best Bet
Ohio State is known above all else for fielding an offense that puts on a serious aerial show. With star wide receiver alumni like Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Terry McLaurin and Michael Thomas dominating the NFL, there’s always been pass catching talent. Since 2012, the Big Ten quarterback of the year has been a Buckeye every year except for 2015, so there’s been some serious studs throwing them the ball too. With Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka forming perhaps the best wideout duo in the nation, the receiving talent is still around, but the quarterback streak is in serious jeopardy.
After going from Justin Fields to C.J. Stroud for four years, Ryan Day finds himself in QB purgatory for the first time. Kyle McCord has plenty of talent- he earned a recruit score of 97 in high school for a reason- but the results have been ugly as he’s been mediocre against some low-level squads to start his first year as the starter. He’s holding onto the job, but possibly only because Devin Brown has looked rough as well in his own opportunities. The visit to Notre Dame will be his first real test, and the whole Buckeye State will be watching with bated breath.
Transfer quarterback Sam Hartman and Notre Dame have been on fire to start the year, and there’s fewer questions to ask of them, especially after he exorcised his NC State demons. Hosting OSU is a huge opportunity to make a statement, but of course also a possible major stumbling block for this Irish squad, making it hard to pick the total given the upside and pitfalls for both offenses. As for a result, I think we can back the Irish here given an outstanding football number of 3.5. Ohio State’s talent might shine through enough to find the road win, but it’s hard to imagine them pulling away by more than a few points given the state of their offense thus far.
Ohio State Vs. Notre Dame Prediction & Best Bet: Notre Dame +3.5
Ohio State Vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds
Notre Dame is a home underdog at +3.5, with -110 odds on either side of the line. To make a pick on a total of 54.5, you can also grab either the over or under at -110.
Ohio State Vs. Notre Dame Key Matchups
With two air-heavy attacks squaring off, the key matchups in both main phases of this game will involve a defense’s approach to limiting aerial gains, so let’s take a look at how each team could do just that.
Ohio State Pass Catchers vs. Notre Dame Cornerbacks
As per the usual, Ohio State has one of the most talented wide receiver groups in the nation. Marvin Harrison Jr. is off to a scorching start with 300 yards and three touchdowns through three games of the season, a year after breaking out with 1,263 yards and 14 scores from 77 catches. His partner in crime Emeka Egbuka is a good bit below his 1,151 yard pace from last year as he has just 167 so far, but he’s also caught three touchdowns. The surprise so far is linebacker turned tight end Cade Stover, who has caught 10 passes for 188 yards, putting him ahead of Egbuka, a first-round draft prospect like Harrison, on the team yardage list. Ohio State will want things to be easy for QB Kyle McCord as he has struggled to fill Stroud’s shoes, and this receiving group can definitely make that a reality.
However, they’re going up against a Notre Dame secondary headlined by a pair of outstanding cornerbacks. The first of those two is sophomore Benjamin Morrison, who leads the team thus far with a PFF coverage grade just south of 80, after a freshman season in which he was graded similarly and also picked off six passes. Senior Cam Hart had an injury-limited 2022, but is back with a vengeance this season as he looks to make a great final impression. With safeties DJ Brown and Clarence Lewis also chipping in nicely, OSU’s talented receiving group will have their work cut out for them this Saturday in South Bend.
Notre Dame Offensive Line Vs. Ohio State Pass Rush
Last season at Wake Forest, Hartman’s numbers took a huge nosedive when he was pressured. In those snaps, he completed less than half of his passes, and in 167 such dropbacks, made just five big throws while committing eight turnover worthy plays and taking 37 sacks. This season, Notre Dame has done a better job of protecting him as his pressure rate is way down at 23% of dropbacks, but the results are similar, so the key is to get some heat on the fringe Heisman candidate. His o-line has been 38th-best in pass protection this year per PFF, led by left tackle Joe Alt who has been absolutely phenomenal with a grade of 88.5 on 112 pass blocking snaps.
They’ll have to be at their absolute best to protect Hartman, as PFF considers Ohio State’s pass rush to be the second best in the nation. First-round NFL draft prospects J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer have both been outstanding off the edge, as neither have registered a sack yet but have absolutely made their presence felt; the two have combined for 17 pressures, just about evenly split, and each have a PFF pass rush grade over 90. Defensive lineman Michael Hall Jr. has also provided some push on the inside, giving the Buckeyes a well-rounded and very formidable unit to get after Hartman and create havoc.