Blue and Gold Illustrated


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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 67

40 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: OHIO STATE BY TYLER HORKA H e won't know until it happens. Marcus Freeman appeared in 51 games with 37 starts as an Ohio State linebacker from 2004-08. Many of those appearances came on the hallowed grounds of the Horseshoe (Ohio Stadium). It was home to Freeman for quite some time. Home, no longer. Enemy territory, rather. The more than 100,000 souls dressed to the gills in scarlet will remind him circumstances have changed every chance they get on the night of Sept. 3. Once adored for running through the Shoe's stadium tunnel, Freeman and his Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be show- ered in boos (and, likely, a fair number of obscenities) before kickoff against the No. 2 Buckeyes. Therein lies the mystery and the in- trigue. Freeman won't know what that feels like until it happens. If anyone is able to come to terms with what's waiting for him in that moment, though, it's Freeman, a lifelong student of college football and someone who has immersed himself in it since the first day he donned Ohio State's iconic silver helmet some 18 years ago. Freeman spent one year away from college football when he bounced around three different NFL organiza- tions in 2009, but he came right back when pro ball turned him away because of a heart condition. He was a graduate assistant for Jim Tressel, his mentor, in Tressel's last season in Columbus in 2010. He's been coaching in the college ranks ever since. Freeman has served in some capac- ity for five universities — including Notre Dame — in the last 12 years. He was awarded his dream job in December by way of Brian Kelly leaving for LSU. Packaged in the inclusion of what must have been the most lucrative contract he has ever signed was a date with his alma mater in the very first regular-season game of his head coaching career. On the road, back home. As if it was fate. Fate has nothing to do with winning a football game, though, and Freeman has made sure to let it be known that's his only week one objective. He doesn't want to visit old stops or say hello to familiar faces. He just wants to win. "This is about Notre Dame football," Freeman said after the Irish's first fall camp practice Aug. 5. "And I know some of the headlines will be about me going back to my alma mater, but my focus point is Notre Dame football and pre- paring this team. And then when we get to Sept. 3, Ohio State happens to be the opponent." A GREAT CHALLENGE Many programs would hate to see Ohio State listed on their schedule in Week 1. Not Notre Dame. "The great thing is it's a great oppo- nent, right?" Freeman said. "And what better way to challenge yourself and to see where we are as a team than to face an opponent like that?" The Buckeyes came in at No. 2 in the preseason USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, behind only Alabama. Notre Dame checked in at No. 5, but the difference between No. 5 and No. 2 might be even more vast than between No. 2 and No. 1. It's expected to be Ala- bama and everyone else. Everyone else begins with Ohio State, though, and there isn't much debating that. Per Vegas Insider in mid-August, it was Ohio State — not Alabama — with the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, even though Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young won the award as a sopho- more last season. Young threw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns. Ohio State redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud wasn't Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT OHIO STATE Date: Sept. 3, 2022 Site: Ohio Stadium Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This game can be heard on the Notre Dame Radio Network and SiriusXM Channel 129. Series Facts: This is the sixth all-time meeting between the two schools, with Ohio State currently holding a 3-2 advantage. The Buckeyes have won the last three meetings, including a 44-28 triumph in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016. Head coaches: Ohio State — Ryan Day (34-4, fourth full season); Notre Dame — Marcus Freeman (0-1, first full season). Noting Opponent: The Buckeyes have won at least 11 games in every season since 2012, excluding the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic … Ohio State players have won seven Heisman Trophy awards, which is tied with Notre Dame and Oklahoma for the most all time … The Buckeyes were one of four teams in the country to average at least 10.0 yards per passing attempt in 2021; Army, Air Force and Coastal Carolina were the others … Quarterback C.J. Stroud ranked second nationally in yards per passing attempt at 10.1 … Stroud also finished third in completion percentage (71.9 percent), fifth in passing yards (4,435), third in passing touchdowns (44), second in quarterback rating (186.56) and third in passing yards per game (369.6) … Ohio State ranked first in scoring offense with 45.7 points per game and 38th in scoring defense at 22.8 points per game … The Buckeyes hired former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to fix the latter; Knowles led the Cowboys to a No. 9 scoring defense ranking at 18.1 points allowed per game in 2021. HOMECOMING Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman returns to Columbus to face his alma mater Third-year quarterback C.J. Stroud is consid- ered the preseason betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He threw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns last year. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Preseason2022