College Football Preview: Can Notre Dame Upset Ohio State?
In one of the more noteworthy games on the docket this college football season, the Ohio State Buckeyes will visit the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a primetime Saturday night matchup that is sure to be a highly contested battle.
Both teams enter Saturday with an undefeated record and hold major standing in the college football postseason landscape but have yet to face a nationally ranked team. The game kicks off at 7:15 p.m. EST and can be watched on NBC.
After falling short to the Georgia Bulldogs in last year's national semifinal, Ohio State has come out of the gate strong in their first three games. However, the departure of star quarterback and number-two overall NFL draft pick C.J. Stroud has left the Buckeyes without a proven signal-caller. Kyle McCord, who officially earned the coveted Ohio State quarterback starting spot last week, will have a chance to silence naysayers in this one but is up against a daunting Notre Dame defense and road crowd.
The Irish, meanwhile, have routed four teams by a margin of at least three touchdowns and seen great results from potential Heisman Trophy contender Sam Hartman thus far. Even though they’ve jumped in the AP Top 25 rankings, entering the year at No. 13 and coming in at No. 9 after last week’s victory against Central Michigan, Notre Dame has a lot on their plate with this matchup.
All college football odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines may change after this article is published.
Ohio State at Notre Dame Betting Odds: Spread, Total, and Moneyline
Spread: Ohio State -3.0 (-108)
- Notre Dame: +125
- Ohio State: -150
Ohio State at Notre Dame Matchup Analysis
Despite being two of the most relevant and storied football institutions, Notre Dame and Ohio State have met just seven times, with Ohio State coming out on top in each of the last five outings. The Fighting Irish will look to get their first win over the Buckeyes since 1936, but the deck looks to be stacked against them.
By numberFire’s nERD metric, Ohio State holds a 48.51 nERD (1st in NCAA), while Notre Dame trails fairly far behind with a 13.45 nERD (40th). The two teams have almost identical raw margins of victory: Notre Dame comes in with a 26.68 average victory, while Ohio State averages a 26.09 rout per game. However, the fact that both teams have blown their competitors out of the water isn’t exactly relevant in this case, given that these numbers fail to account for the strength of competition.
What’s more pertinent here are the projected margins of victory against the average team, and Ohio State comes out on top in this regard, boasting a 29.53 projected margin of victory to Notre Dame’s 18.55. This, paired with numberFire’s model giving the Buckeyes a 66.5% win probability, will make things tough for the Blue and Gold, but the experience of their quarterback and advantage of kicking things off in South Bend could even this matchup out.
Following his transfer from Wake Forest, Sam Hartman has been lethal for Notre Dame, serving as one of their best field generals in recent history. He comes into Saturday with a 217.8 passer rating (4th in the country), 89.4 quarterback rating (5th), and 23.2 Expected Points Added (10th). Hartman has ample experience suiting up against nationally ranked teams from his time at Wake Forest and has been at the helm of some big games (including a 2022 double-overtime battle against a then-No. 5 Clemson team).
Up until this season, Kyle McCord’s experience doesn’t surpass garbage-time play. He’s put up decent numbers for the Buckeyes thus far as their QB1, with an 87.2 quarterback rating (9th), 183.2 passer rating (14th), and 17.6 Expected Points Added (21st), but he is by no means the highlight of the OSU offense. He will need the help of star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who is averaging 21.7 yards per reception, to get things going early for the Buckeyes. Though I wouldn’t call McCord the make-or-break player for this team, he will have to show up on Saturday.
The game total for this matchup is set at 55.5. Ohio State gives up only 223.7 yards per game (third), and Notre Dame is right there with them, letting up 234.3 yards per game (fourth). Neither team gives up more than 4.5 yards per pass or per rush, granted these numbers are primed to be adjusted with stiffer competition come Saturday.
Time will tell whether Notre Dame can shake off the “always lose in a big game” stereotype, or if Kyle McCord can earn his Buckeye leaves. Either way, this game’s outcome will have major ramifications on the College Football Playoff seedings and is sure to be a must-watch affair.
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