Notre Dame vs. Ohio State NCAAF Week 1: Will the Fighting Irish Cover the Spread?

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One of three Week 1 matchups between ranked teams has Notre Dame visiting Ohio State, and we’ve got a free college football pick for the contest.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday, September 3, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ohio Stadium

On paper, Saturday night’s prime-time matchup between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes is a collision of top 5 teams with the outcome having a direct bearing on the National Championship.

At the top-rated sportsbooks, the game is a mismatch with the Buckeyes favored by 17½ points, that spread getting boosted by a field goal since the opening lines went out. The scoreboard target is 58-58½.

Freeman Era Begins in South Bend

There will not be any easing into the job for Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman.

Heading up the program in South Bend is no easy task for anyone, much less a 36-year-old in his first head coaching job, and Freeman’s first game will be against an Ohio State team he worked for as a grad assistant a dozen years ago.

Technically his first game was last year’s Fiesta Bowl, but Saturday’s tilt in Columbus will certainly have more of a first day on the job feel with it being a fresh season with as tough a start to the schedule as any team is going to have in 2022.

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Can Rees Push Irish Offense to New Heights?

Freeman will have some consistency among his coaches in Tommy Rees, who is in his third season as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator. Rees is bringing along another new quarterback in Tyler Buchner, who will have an experienced offensive line in front of him.

Buchner will have the nation’s top tight end in Michael Mayer for one of his targets. Mayer hauled in 71 passes a year ago, seven of them for scores, and will be who defenses scheme around until unproven wideouts and running backs step up for Notre Dame.

After toiling as the defensive coordinator last season under Brian Kelly, Freeman brought in Al Golden to take his former job. Golden will have pass rush specialist Isaiah Foskey leading the way up front, and Marist Liufau is back at linebacker after missing 2021 with a broken leg.

Stroud Returns to Lead Explosive Buckeyes

An upset loss to rival Michigan, as 6½-point favorites on the NCAAF odds, at the end of the regular season cost Ryan Day and the Buckeyes a third-straight trip to the College Football Playoffs. Nonetheless, it was an outstanding season thanks in large part to quarterback CJ Stroud who returns as a Heisman favorite.

Stroud put up ridiculous numbers, 4,435 yards passing, 34 TD, only 6 interceptions, in 2021, and finished fourth in the Heisman voting.

He could be even better this time around with familiar targets in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba back, plus TreVeyon Henderson returning to the backfield.

It’s on defense where Day is looking for his Buckeyes to make the biggest improvement. Jim Knowles is now in the DC position, and Ohio State also landed DB guru Perry Eliano from the Cincinnati Bearcats to get that group up to snuff.

Fighting Irish vs. Buckeyes: Rivalry Trends

First Meeting Since ’16 Fiesta Notre Dame and Ohio State are getting together for the first time in more than six years when the programs collided in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, that contest played on January 1, 2016, and not to be confused with the 2016 Fiesta Bowl that was played on December 31, 2016.

Ironically, that was the first time the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes had met since the Fiesta Bowl 10 years earlier. Ohio State won both of those bowl contests and did so rather handily by scores of 44-28 (2016) and 34-20 (2006).

  • The Buckeyes were 11½-point chalk in 2016, and the final easily got past a 57½-point total.
  • Ohio State has won the last four meetings to lead the rivalry 4-2.
  • Notre Dame’s only two wins in the series came in 1935 and 1936, the first two meetings between the schools.

Final Thoughts

When one considers the discrepancy between the two sides in the college football futures market, the spread doesn’t seem out of whack even with it being No. 2 vs. No. 5. Ohio State (+300) is running second to Alabama (+180) on most boards with Notre Dame (+4500) much further back.

Still five days in advance of the game, everything looks fine on the weather front (muggy 70° at kickoff, partly cloudy skies, light SSE breeze). Bettors will want to get an update before making their wagers.

Hey, I know this is a really good Ohio State team against a Notre Dame side that is in a bit of transition but are the Buckeyes really 17½ points better than the Fighting Irish? I think not.

NCAAF Pick: Notre Dame +17½ (-105) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Notre Dame +17½ (-105)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.