Staff Picks: Will the Buckeyes win the Top 10 Showdown in South Bend?

This game has been circled on the calendar for a long time and after three tune up games, the Buckeyes will finally get a chance to solidify themselves as playoff contenders as they hit the road in a Top 10 matchup against Notre Dame. The Buckeyes won a close, low-scoring game in Columbus a year ago. Will this one follow a similar path, or will we see a different type of game play out on Saturday night?

Ross Fulton

Defensively, Notre Dame likes to play cover 1 variations on early downs before using pressure packages on passing downs. Look for Ryan Day to again rely on split boundary zone early, seeing if he can get a two for 1 advantage with the tight end block. Day will also likely use extensive motion against the Fighting Irish man coverage schemes, and place Marvin Harrison in the slot.  Day will likely also get the ball on the perimeter early with easy access RPO and PPO throws to Harrison, Emeka Egbuka, and Traveyon Henderson early to get Kyle McCord settled in, before taking shots downfield.

Defensively, it starts with Ohio State being sound in their run fits against Notre Dame’s gap scheme run game. The Buckeyes need big games from their defensive tackles to put the Fighting Irish behind schedule. Look for Jim Knowles to then increasingly rely on four and five man pressure schemes on passing downs. Sam Hartmann will hold the ball, so the Buckeyes need to speed up his clock in the pocket.

Ohio State 31 Notre Dame 23

Tony Gerdeman

This is going to be a game between two confident teams, so it will be interesting to see which one blinks first. Kyle McCord has been on the sideline for bigger games than this, but this will be the biggest game he’s ever actually played in. His teammates have talked about his calm demeanor, so let’s see it on third and seven. I’m not expecting the Buckeyes to run the ball all that effectively, but the ability to throw the ball should get them down the field well enough.

I’m still interested to see how the defense handles an experienced quarterback who can lean on a running game. Let’s see the Ohio State safeties hold up against the play-action, because if they can do that, I like the Buckeyes. If they can’t, it may come down to the final drive. And the final blink.

Ohio State 27 Notre Dame 23

Marc Givler

This game will present much different challenges for Ohio State than last year’s game in Columbus. Notre Dame may have upgraded at the quarterback position this off-season more than any team in the country and it will take a lot to rattle Sam Hartman on Saturday night.

But Notre Dame also isn’t as scary on defense as it was a year ago and the offense, while solid upfront and with a very good back in Audric Estime, lacks a true gamebreaker and does not have a chains-moving machine like it had a year ago in Michael Mayer.

We’ll learn more about just how legitimate this Ohio State defense is, especially upfront, on Saturday night and we’ll also find out if last week’s breakout performance by the offense was a sign of things to come or simply a blip on the radar against a bad WKU defense.

Ultimately I think Ohio State’s speed is going to win out. The Buckeyes have more athletes on the edges on both sides of the football and I think that will overcome the crowd and a tough competitor like Hartman.

Ohio State 31 Notre Dame 21

Alex Gleitman

This game is complex at times, but I find this one to be really simple: Who wins at the line of scrimmage? The battles on both sides of the ball here will be key in determining who wins this game. If the Ohio State offensive line struggles against a more-veteran, yet-undersized ND defensive front, it could be hard to operate the offense like they want to and score the point total that I think they’ll need to win this game (28+). On the other side of the ball, the Rushmen have to be more consistent and play their best game of the season. I thought they were pretty good last week, and they’ll need to continue to get pressure on the quarterback in the passing game, while limiting Audric Estime’s ground yardage in the rushing game. Notre Dame will absolutely look to hold the ball and play a possession game to limit how many times OSU touches it on offense, so the defensive line will be critical in helping the team get off the field early.

While I think Ohio State has more talent on their roster and could/will be the better team by season’s end, I just don’t think the Buckeyes are there quite yet—both in fully clicking on offense, as well as in being consistent enough to get off the field on defense—to win a tough road game like this early in the season. For the sake of this board and everyone in the OSU fan base, I hope I am wrong and that this inexperienced Ohio State team rises to the occasion, but I think the offensive line will hinder the offensive output and the Notre Dame offensive line will win just enough battles with the Buckeyes’ defensive line, controlling time of possession and contributing to putting up enough points to put this thing away in the end.

Notre Dame 27 Ohio State 24

Gleitman’s Game Day Guide

Kevin Noon

Fans can be so touchy. I have managed to piss off a lot of Notre Dame fans along the way because I refuse to bend the knee to their staunch belief that this is the year for the Fighting Irish.

It has been 87 years since Notre Dame has beaten Ohio State, but for the sake of honesty, the two teams have only played five times in that span and the outcome has been all Scarlet and Gray in those five meetings.

Sam Hartman is the best quarterback that Notre Dame has had since Brady Quinn, too bad he is a one-year rental, you would think that Notre Dame would be able to do better in its quarterback recruiting.

Notre Dame running back Audric Estime is the type of running back that Ohio State has traditionally done a great job of keeping in check. Estime did have Notre Dame’s lone touchdown last season but really did nothing special in that game outside of that and Ohio State’s defense is performing significantly better this year than last.

It is all going to come down to how the lines play, for both teams, but isn’t that a common chorus when trying to predict games.

The oddsmakers have had Ohio State out in front in this one the whole way and while Notre Dame does have some advantages over the Buckeyes the Buckeyes have more, even while yielding home field to the Irish in this one.

I don’t think the oddsmakers have gone far enough and all the bluster and echoes and LED bracelets aren’t going to be enough. While Ohio State doesn’t look like the offensive Death Star it was last season (later in the season) the Buckeyes will flex their muscle in a game they can truly get excited about. 

Ohio State 35, Notre Dame 17

Tom Orr

This is going to be the week when we might learn the most about this year’s Ohio State team all season long. They’re 3-0, and have improved each week in some ways, but still haven’t faced a complete team. That changes this weekend.

Notre Dame still isn’t one of the nation’s truly elite teams. They have some of the same issues they have in a lot of seasons – the wide receivers are just okay, for example – but the defense is absolutely loaded with veteran talent. Ten of the 11 starters are either seniors or grad students, and the other one is sophomore sensation CB Benjamin Morrison, who was a freshman all-American last year. If Notre Dame is ever going to take that next step, this is the year it will happen.

The big question for Ohio State is how the offensive line will hold up. If those five guys play a good enough game to allow TreVeyon Henderson to run for 5.5 yards per carry, and give Kyle McCord enough time to get the ball to his receivers, the Buckeyes should get out of town with a win.

Ohio State 28, Notre Dame 27

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