Notre Dame vs. Ohio State Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Guide to Top-5 College Football Showdown
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson.
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State Odds
|Notre Dame Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Ohio State Odds|
-110o / -110u
There’s a stark contrast between oddsmakers and AP Top 25 voters every college football season. That fact has never been more transparent, as No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 5 Notre Dame as a three-possession favorite.
A number that opened Ohio State -10.5 earlier in the summer has taken nothing but Buckeyes money, leading to one of the most steamed lines in the Week 1 slate.
Marcus Freeman begins his first full season as the Irish head coach after losing to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
His impact as defensive coordinator was felt in the wake of Clark Lea taking on the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. The Irish finished top-10 defensively in tackling, coverage and Finishing Drives. When the conservative offense sputtered, the defense navigated the Irish to a victory over 11 opponents on the schedule.
Ohio State enters the season neck-and-neck with Alabama as the odds-on favorite to win the National Championship. With a loss to Oregon and Michigan last season, the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl over Utah in a high-scoring affair.
While the offense was electric, the defense continued a yearly struggle against the explosive play. The hire of Jim Knowles as defensive coordinator is expected to be the fix for a defense that fell outside the top 100 in standard downs explosiveness.
An Ohio State victory here ensures there will be no logjam behind the Irish in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Freeman returns 83% of the defense from last season, with more than 80% of tackles and passes defensed taking the field against Ohio State.
The front seven brings back 15 quarterback hits in tackle Jayson Ademilola, edge Isaiah Foskey and linebacker JD Bertrand. While those players are locked in on creating pressure against Ohio State’s offensive line, one of the best secondaries in the nation looks to trim the explosive play.
Cam Hart picks off Graham Mertz!
Irish look to grab their first lead of the game. pic.twitter.com/q4j4uqVK7Y
— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) September 25, 2021
Cam Hart is just one of the multiple defensive starters for the Irish who brings back more than 25 passes defensed on the season.
The argument could be made that Notre Dame faced a subpar schedule of passing offenses, but the counting stats indicate the Irish may field the best defense the Buckeyes will face all season.
On the offensive side, Tyler Buchner beat Drew Pyne for the title of QB1 after fall camp.
Buchner does not have a ton of experience after serving in relief of Jack Coan in 2021. The sophomore posted just one big-time throw against five turnover-worthy plays.
Buchner will be assisted by one of the best tight ends in college football, as Michael Mayer led the Irish with 71 catches a season ago.
— CollegeFootballLegends (@CFBallLegends) August 25, 2022
After Mayer, there are plenty of questions at the skill positions for Notre Dame.
Leading wide receiver Avery Davis is out for the season with a torn ACL, leaving Braden Lenzy as the only target with starting experience. While experience is good, Lenzy had the highest drop rate on the team at 13.5%.
The Irish will look to replace running back Kyren Williams with a trio of options.
Logan Diggs will be full strength for Week 1 after averaging 3.3 yards after contact in 2021. Chris Tyree will also contribute to the depleted backfield, but he forced just six missed tackles on 56 rushing attempts last season.
The bigger question for the offense comes at the right tackle spot. Redshirt freshman Blake Fisher is expected to start but had one of the lowest run-blocking grades of any lineman in 128 snaps last season.
Words cannot do justice to how loaded the Buckeyes are on the offensive side of the ball.
Heisman Trophy contender CJ Stroud returns at quarterback with nearly every rushing yard out of the backfield.
Although wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson have departed for the NFL, there may not be more of a dangerous skill position player than Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba in last year’s Rose bowl:
Stroud: 37/46, 573 YDS, 6 TD, 1 INT
Smith-Njigba: 15 REC, 347 YDS, 3 TD
OSU/ND can’t get here fast enough. pic.twitter.com/nMz7PteOVM
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) August 27, 2022
Stroud ended his true freshman season with 44 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Even more impressive was a minimal dip in adjusted completion rate in pressured dropbacks.
One factor that could keep Stroud from competing for the Heisman is the backfield, specifically TreVeyon Henderson.
The sophomore finished the season sixth nationally in elusiveness, forcing 50 missed tackles on 183 rushing attempts. Henderson became a force in passing downs, averaging 11.6 yards per catch with one drop on 29 targets.
If there’s a question on this national title-contending offense, it may come on the offensive line with minimal experience on the interior. Henderson’s ability to slide in the flats makes his skill set the perfect complement for the offense.
Knowles takes over a Buckeyes defense that has been embarrassed by Iowa, Purdue and Oregon in recent years. The 4-2-5 scheme Knowles ran at Oklahoma State was one of the best in the nation, and he’s expected to unleash the same scheme in Columbus.
Nine of the top 10 tacklers from last season return under new management. Edge Zach Harrison leads the charge in the trench after recording 28 pressures last season.
Zach Harrison with that double TFL. pic.twitter.com/tESIgkRifr
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 1, 2020
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State Betting Pick
There’s plenty of familiarity between the coaching staffs of Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Knowles built Oklahoma State’s defensive game plan in preparation for the Fiesta Bowl against the Irish. There’s not a skill position on the Irish offense that will surprise Ohio State’s new defensive coordinator in his debut.
With the departure of Notre Dame’s veteran quarterback, there’s every reason to believe Harrison and middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg will look to confuse the youth movement at the tackle positions on the Irish offensive line.
The Irish defense will look to contain the most explosive offensive attack in the nation, but there may be a few factors already playing in the favor of Ohio State.
Head coach Ryan Day schemed his offense against Freeman’s Cincinnati defense in 2019. The end result was a 42-0 for the Buckeyes, but Day took a four-touchdown lead into halftime before running the offense at a lower gear in the second half.
Freeman does have a better defensive unit than the 2019 version of the Bearcats, but the scheme is unchanged.
Notre Dame’s scheme will feature five in the box with a standing edge rusher. Cornerbacks are expected to win heads-up battles with wideouts, but more importantly, Freeman prefers man-to-man coverage. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the second-highest-graded wide receiver against man-to-man coverage in college football last season.
As mentioned at the top, this number has steamed all the way to Ohio State -17.5 at a couple of shops. The Action Network projection makes this game Ohio State -17. But the more important question is when will the Notre Dame offense have to catch up on the scoreboard?
Day made it clear at his weekly presser that establishing the run was of the utmost importance. The Irish prefer a slower-paced game, but any lead for Notre Dame will tempt the Buckeyes to air the ball out to the most talented group of receivers in FBS.
The first half may be low-scoring because of the scripted plan to run the ball on both sides. Once Knowles makes adjustments after a few offensive series for Notre Dame, the Irish will be limited in creating explosive plays.
At some point, Ohio State will put up its fair share of points. But college football consumers may have to wait a few series to see the fireworks.