Sometimes it takes until week four to really get the college football season going. Opening week brings some captivating matchups, but weeks two and three are often dominated by P5s whooping up on mid-majors. Yawn. Enter the #6 Ohio St. Buckeyes traveling to the #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
This the first real mouth-watering, meant and potatoes game of the 2023 college football season. No more added buildup needed.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Notre Dame Fighting Irish FYIs
Kickoff: Sat Sept. 23, 7:30 pm, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Fun fact (for Notre Dame fans): QB Sam Hartman comes in with a 71% completion and a 217 QB rating
Fun fact (for Buckeyes backers): ND is 3-13 in last 16 vs. AP top 10 teams (although it is worth noting all three Ws came at ND Stadium)
Flashback 2016 Fiesta Bowl (2015 season)
This was a total blowout, favoring the Buckeyes, and just a weird game overall. Joey Bosa was ejected very early, but it didn’t affect the Buckeyes defense too badly.
Jaylon Smith got seriously injured, early on, and that plummeted his draft stock badly, which saw him lose out on a ton of money for his first NFL contract.
He sort of became the poster child for “why you should skip your bowl game” that day.
With both team’s best defenders out early, this New Year’s Six bowl game, staged in the middle of the desert, became more memorable than the 44-28 final score might indicate.
There were actually two Fiesta Bowls in the calendar year 2016, with the other being staged on New Year’s Eve.
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes Preview 3-0
It took until the third game for OSU to actually blow somebody out, and that has raised a lot of eyebrows.
Their fan base is notorious for containing a high number/large percentage of extremely unhinged people, so no wonder there has some been some early season paranoia.
But they’re favored by 3 here, and ESPN FPI gives them a 66% chance of winning. The loser here might have to say goodbye to their College Football Playoff chances.
#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview
For ND, the key is going to be stopping that play the Bucks ran to perfection last week versus Youngstown St. By that I mean the Marvin Harrison runs straight down the field and Kyle McCord throws it deep to him play.
It works because it’s simple and it’s the same play you ran as a kid playing in the sandlot.
We’ll see if the Notre Dame secondary has their answers for this. No doubt QB Sam Hartman can win a shootout with anyone. He enters the game with a 13-0 TD-INT ratio and almost 12 yards per attempt.
Meanwhile let’s check on how Tyler Buchner and Tommy Rees are doing in Alabama right now. Anyway, getting back to South Bend, the Notre Dame OL is big and just as bold as ever.
A few years ago they replaced Wisconsin as OLU, but then fell down a peg or two.
They’re back now baby!
Prediction: #9 Notre Dame 27, #6 Ohio State 21
This is starting to look and feel like another one of those very ND seasons- you know where they win some massive games in the regular season. And then when they go to the postsea…..never mind, we’ll get into that later.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.