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Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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12 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME No, The Buckeyes' Offense Is Too Potent By Tyler Horka I'll be the first to admit — 14.5 points is quite a spread. Especially in Week 1. Especially with two perennial powers, both of which are ranked inside the top five of the coaches poll in the preseason edition of the ranking. But Sept. 3's clash of thoroughbreds at the Horse- shoe in Columbus will come down to what football games at any level are typically settled by: quarter- back play. Ohio State's will be better. Significantly so. That's not to say Irish sophomore Tyler Buchner or junior Drew Pyne won't eventually have a successful season. One game hardly defines any one team's entire year. But in that environment, I'll put money on the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite and his superior supporting cast before I bet on a first-time starting quarterback (be it Buchner or Pyne) led by a first-year head coach. Ohio State signal-caller C.J. Stroud, who threw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last year, is going to have a big game in primetime. Notre Dame's quarterback is going to struggle. That can usually amount to a two-touchdown difference. The Buckeyes will play off a solid home atmosphere to make up a field goal's worth of points somewhere along the line in a 60-minute game. It's going to be a long 60 minutes for Notre Dame's Marcus Freeman, an Ohio State alum and former Buckeye linebacker, in his homecoming. Notre Dame will get better from Week 1 on. The Irish simply drew a jug- gernaut to begin the season. Yes, Veteran Irish Line Play Will Keep Things Close By Todd D. Burlage When the betting line opened and Ohio State was listed as a 14.5-point favorite over Notre Dame, you could almost hear a collective "What!" from ND Nation. How could an Irish team that's ranked No. 5 in the preseason coaches poll be more than a two-touchdown underdog against any team in the country? I understand that Ohio State is playing at home, featuring arguably the best offense in the country and a Heisman hopeful quarterback with junior C.J. Stroud. That said, Notre Dame has a couple things working in its favor as well. • The Buckeyes return most members from a pedestrian defense that gave up more than 30 points five times last year, and more than 40 points in its final two games. • Season openers don't always go as expected. Ohio State struggled de- fensively in its season opener last season but managed a 45-31 victory over Minnesota. A week later, the Buckeyes lost at home, 35-28, to Oregon. And guess what — Ohio State was a 14.5-point favorite against the Ducks. Yes, Notre Dame will have a first-year starting quarterback. And yes, expect some growing pains with rookie head coach Marcus Freeman working his first regular-season game. But with a veteran defense and an offensive line that will be as good as any in the country, Notre Dame has the manpower to stand toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least keep things close. Can the Irish pull the upset in the Horseshoe? Probably not. Can the Irish stay within two touchdowns? You can bet on it. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WILL NOTRE DAME COVER A 14.5-POINT SPREAD AT OHIO STATE? Recently hired Notre Dame women's golf coach Caroline Powers Ellis admits there weren't many schools that could've pulled her away from her previous job as an assistant coach at Michigan State. An MSU graduate, the 2013 Big Ten Golfer of the Year there, and an All-American on the golf course and in the classroom, Powers Ellis was plenty comfortable in East Lansing. But circum- stances change and opportunity knocks. So when Powers Ellis, 31, saw the top job at Notre Dame open up when Susan Holt retired after 16 seasons as Irish head coach, the former was interested in opening a new career chapter. Blue & Gold Illustrated caught up with Powers Ellis to talk about her new opportunity. BGI: What was the first order of business on your new job? Powers Ellis: "It was to call the current players and our 2023 commits, and right now we're in the midst of trying to hire an assistant. And, I'm out recruiting as we speak. Those three things, right off the bat, were pretty concurrent but obviously very important. "Next, it's about learning things to prepare for when the players get to school. I would also like to find a place to live!" BGI: How did those initial interactions with the players and recruits go? Powers Ellis: "They've gone really well. You never know because obviously they committed to the University of Notre Dame and to the golf program. So, it's definitely uncharted territory for all of us when that world gets shaken up some, but it's been really fun to get to know them. "They all seem eager and welcoming for what I bring to the table. And everybody likes you before you start, right?" BGI: As a first-time head coach replacing a vet- eran, what was your message to the players? Powers Ellis: "I told them that there are going to be some growing pains this year. They all know that this is the first time I'll be doing this and it's their first time having a new coach. We're going to learn it together. "Some days we're going to get it right and say, 'That was awesome.' And some days we're proba- bly going to get it wrong. But we'll keep learning." BGI: How will you build your roster? Powers Ellis: "Just identifying those student- athletes that believe that they really can be suc- cessful in the classroom and on the golf course, and that those don't have to be a tradeoff. I think sometimes people may choose certain schools because of one or the other. "The type of players that I plan to bring in are those who want to be great at both." BGI: Can you hang with your girls on the course? Powers Ellis: "Oh yeah. I told them that I love to play. It is important to me to continue to play in tournaments. So, I definitely plan to get out there and on the course right away when we're all back to campus. "I'll give them a run for their money." — Todd D. Burlage FIVE QUESTIONS WITH … FIRST-YEAR WOMEN'S GOLF COACH CAROLINE POWERS ELLIS Powers Ellis took the helm of Notre Dame's wom- en's golf program after six years as an assistant at Michigan State. She also was an All-American on the golf course and academically for the Spartans. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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