Blue and Gold Illustrated


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

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Page 44 of 67 PRESEASON 2022 45 GAME PREVIEW: OHIO STATE Todd D. Burlage: Ohio State 35, Notre Dame 28 In what is truly one of the most anticipated Notre Dame games of the last decade, the Irish are listed as a 14.5-point underdog to Ohio State in a matchup of top-10 teams. With odds like that, don't expect Notre Dame to pull an upset in Columbus — but expect the Irish to keep it respectable. Steve Downey: Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20 The last time we saw the Irish they struggled to both run the ball — against a Jim Knowles-designed defense in their first outing post-Kyren Williams — and defend the pass. That would be a fatal combination in a hostile environment against the Buckeyes. Notre Dame needs an effective rushing attack to keep dynamic quarterback C.J. Stroud on the sidelines. The Irish will battle but fall short of their first road win versus a top-five team in 17 years. Patrick Engel: Ohio State 35, Notre Dame 24 On one hand, this might be the best time to play Ohio State as it breaks in a new defensive coordinator and before it can really get rolling. On the other, it's a bear of a task for a first-time head coach and first-year starting quarterback to topple a top-five team on the road. Notre Dame's secondary trying to stop Ohio State's prolific passing attack doesn't favor the Irish either, at least on paper. Tyler Horka: Ohio State 41, Notre Dame 24 Heisman Trophy favorite C.J. Stroud and his elite supporting cast will be too much for a first-time starting Irish quarterback and a first-year Notre Dame head coach. The Irish will struggle with a rambunctious atmosphere at the Horseshoe while the Buckeyes will let it work in their favor. It could feel closer than the score indicates, but Stroud will put the game away for good in the fourth. Ashton Pollard: Ohio State 38, Notre Dame 24 There's nothing like a bit of a shootout to start the college football season. The Buckeyes will walk out of the locker room with arguably the best offense in college football. Notre Dame's defense should also be top notch, leading to a close first 30 minutes. An overwhelming passing attack from quarterback C.J. Stroud will be the storyline of the second half, and Ohio State will walk away with a top-10 win. Mike Singer: Ohio State 24, Notre Dame 19 I like Notre Dame to cover a two-touchdown spread but not to come out victorious on the road against the Buckeyes. It will be a tough environment for a first-time starting quarterback, but I like a close, low-scoring game. Defenses are often ahead of offenses at this point, and the Irish defense is superb. Ohio State will be just a bit too much for Notre Dame in this one. turns after recording a team-best 100 tackles last season. Ohio State needs improved linebacker play, and seniors Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg — younger brother of former Irish lineman Liam Eichenberg — both showed marked improvement in the spring and real promise to deliver it. Advantage: Even NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE When sizing up the Irish passing game, all con- versations start with junior tight end Michael Mayer. The All-America candidate and first-round NFL Draft hopeful set Irish tight end receiving re- cords last season in catches (71), receiving yards (840) and touchdowns (7). Mayer will be the rock in the passing game while Notre Dame looks to replace its starting quarter- back and its leading wide receiver. Those duties ar expected to fall on Buchner and sophomore wideout Lorenzo Styles. As a backup to starter Jack Coan in 2021, Bu- chner held down a situational role that primarily asked him to showcase his running skills. But Buch- ner posted only 21 pass completions, 3 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions last season, so his value as a passer remains unknown. Styles steadily improved in 2021 and finished with 24 catches for 344 yards and 1 touchdown. Projected as a breakout player in 2022, Styles ended his 2021 freshman campaign with 8 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl. Graduate student wideout Avery Davis was ex- pected to provide veteran leadership and stability to the receiving corps, but he was lost for the season with a torn ACL on Aug. 12. The Buckeyes counter with an experienced and athletic defensive line that finished third in the Big Ten last season with 2.85 sacks per game. Senior safety Ronnie Hickman notched a team-high 100 tackles for Ohio State last season. PHOTO COURTESY OHIO STATE ATHLETICS Staff Predictions

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