Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick & Predictions

by | Last updated Sep 21, 2023 | cfb

Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)

Date/Time: Saturday, September 23rd, 7:30 PM

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN


Point Spread: OHIO ST -3 / ND +3 (BetUS – Get a 100% bonus up to $300 with code PREDICTEM)

Over/Under Total: 54.5

The Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Indiana to take on Notre Dame for a Saturday Night Showdown in South Bend in what is arguably the biggest non-conference matchup remaining on the NCAA 2023 schedule. Ohio State owns a 5-2 all-time advantage against Notre Dame, with wins in their last five matchups, including a 21-10 opening week victory a season ago.


Notre Dame has put up at least 40 points in all four of their games to start the year, thanks in large part to their two offensive stars, quarterback Sam Hartman and running back Audric Estime. If they both are able to continue to build upon their run-pass onslaught on the scoreboards, it definitely points to success for the South Bend faithful, as the Irish are 61-1 in their last 62 regular season games when scoring over 21 points.


Sam Hartman continues to put up impressive numbers not seen from a Notre Dame signal caller in quite some time. He has already thrown for over 1000 yards, with a 71% completion rate to go along with 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Hartman has definitely benefited from a less challenging early schedule in helping to get some rust off in learning to play with a new team. He has done a great job acclimating himself to his teammates by getting a wide range of the Irish target choices involved in the offense.


One strategic advantage of having a quarterback like Hartman is his ability to spread the ball around to all facets of playmakers. His two favorite targets are team leaders in receiving yards, Chris Tyree, and receptions, Jayden Thomas. Still, there are plenty of others seeing action, as evidenced by the fact the Irish have averaged 9.7 different players making a catch in their games this season. The tight end position seemed like an afterthought after Michael Mayer departed to the NFL, but that has not been the case, with Holden Staes leading the team in touchdown receptions with four. The tight end group will get a big boost this weekend with starter Mitchell Evans back after missing two games due to injury.


The Notre Dame backfield has multiple talented options that have already contributed this season, including Jeremiyah Love, Gi’Bran Payne, and Jadarian Price, but there is one clear heart and leader of the group, Audric Estimate. The bruising back has bulldozed his way to an impressive 8.3 yards per carry, with 521 yards on the ground to go along with five touchdowns and an additional five receptions for 55 yards. Estime has scored in every game this season, and the Irish will hope that streak to continue against a stout Buckeye defense that ranks 3rd nationally in yards allowed and 2nd in scoring.

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From 2017-2020, Ohio State had eight defensive players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. They have had zero in the three years since, though that streak seems like a near guarantee to end in 2024, considering the amount of talent abound in Columbus. The front seven includes lineman Michael Hall, JT Tuimoloau, Lathan Ransom, Tyleik Williams, and Jack Sawyer, along with linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. At the same time, the defensive backfield is highlighted by Denzel Burke and safety Lathan Ransom. All eight are names you are likely to see along the way in many mock drafts.


There is plenty of talent abound on the offensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes as well, including running back TreVeyon Henderson. The junior speedster has played sparingly through a lackluster early schedule, though he has still managed to put up four touchdowns on just 18 carries over his last two games. His success has a clear correlation to that of his team in the win column, as Ohio State has won 18 games in a row when Henderson averages over 4.5 yards per carry. The Notre Dame run defense hasn’t allowed any player to eclipse 60 yards rushing in a game this season, but they also haven’t faced anything close to an offense yet that has a running back like Henderson, let alone one that also has two first-round talents at wide receiver.


Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are looking to become the first non-Alabama teammate pair of wide receivers to get drafted in the first round since Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis were both selected out of LSU in 2007. Both have a consistent knack for getting into the endzone (Harrison has 20 touchdowns in his last 18 games, Egbuka with 13 in his last 16) and present matchup nightmares for opposing defenses, especially when you consider the respect they also have to pay to Henderson in the backfield. While they dominate the attention, there are still plenty of other talented targets for the Buckeyes, including tight end Cade Stover and wide receiver Julian Fleming.


Replacing a leader like CJ Stroud is never easy, and Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord has struggled at times in his role as starter to begin 2023. While the team’s defense has dominated, the offense has lacked the explosiveness fans would expect from such a prolifically skill-positioned stacked offense. McCord has avoided any egregious mistakes over the last two weeks through the air with six touchdowns and no interceptions but will be relied upon more not just to manage the game against Notre Dame but also to make the necessary big plays when it matters to show he belongs in such a heralded position.


Neither Notre Dame nor Ohio State has necessarily lit the world on fire against quality competition of late. The Buckeyes are 5-5 straight up in their last ten games against ranked opponents and have struggled even more against the number, going just 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 games against Top 25 teams and 1-6 in their last seven as a road favorite. Notre Dame has particularly struggled against quality competition, having gone 3-21 straight up in their last 24 games against top 6 teams and 7-32 in their last 39 against teams in the top 12.

Both teams have played well against subpar competition to start the year, and this week will be their first true test. The Irish are a different offense than South Bend has seen of late, with Sam Hartman at quarterback, especially when combined with the talents of Audric Estime. And Notre Dame fans have considerably more faith on the sidelines in head coach Marcus Freeman than they have in recent years. However, that’s nearly by default when you consider the previous two were big game failure and angry imp Brian Kelly, along with the utter disaster in both results and personality that was Charlie Weis.

All that said, I am picking Ohio State to win and cover against the Irish. Both defenses have started the season well, but I believe the difference will be the three-headed offensive monster of Henderson-Harrison-Egbuka presenting enough matchup issues to give the Buckeyes the necessary advantage to solidify themselves as an early BCS title contender. Ohio State has gone 45-4 in their last 49 road games, and that winning success away from Columbus will continue at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night.

Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Ohio State -3

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