José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor
Its finally here. The Saturday we all circled on the calendar at the start of the season. And it’s everything we could have imagined: a top-10 matchup, College Gameday, undefeated teams under the lights at The House that Rockne Built. I think this game will live up to the hype. I’m predicting a tight, one-score Irish win when it is all said and done. More than anything, this game comes down to the matchup in the trenches. Whoever is able to keep their quarterback safe will win this game. But I also think this a game where experience will be key. Sam Hartman has nearly 50 more collegiate starts than Kyle McCord, and I expect him to rise to the occasion and lead the Irish to a historic victory in South Bend. Notre Dame 35, Ohio State 31.
Andrew McGuinness, Sports EditorThis just feels like one of those games that is going to go down to the wire no matter what. The Irish don’t want to turn this game into a shootout, but they also don’t need to be on chew-clock mode from the get-go like they were in Columbus last year. This will come down to Notre Dame’s ability to navigate the passing game. Can the offensive line, specifically junior guards Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler, hold up? Can Notre Dame’s receivers (or other pass-catchers) make plays when called upon?
Graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman must play great, but he won’t be able to carve up the Buckeyes secondary for big plays like against Central Michigan. This isn’t just the biggest game for the Irish under Freeman. It’s the biggest of Hartman’s collegiate career. Look for him to make it count. Notre Dame 31, Ohio State 24.
J.J. Post, Associate Sports EditorThere are a few parallels between this year’s game and last year’s contest in Columbus. Notre Dame will likely look to once again control the tempo of the contest. Ohio State will no doubt hope to set free their explosive wide receiver room. But it’s difficult to find a more stark contrast between the Irish’s situation at quarterback last season and their new veteran triggerman, Sam Hartman.
Notre Dame can now try to control the tempo, but with the additional benefit of a quarterback who can keep the Buckeyes honest. Safe money says the winner of the quarterback duel between Hartman and the talented but inexperienced Kyle McCord will also win the game. And if that is indeed the case, it’s difficult to not ride with the man making his 50th career start under the lights in South Bend. Notre Dame 38, Ohio State 35
Emily DeFazio, Associate Sports EditorI’m going to keep this one short and sweet and say I’m cautiously optimistic. With the way this team has been performing under Sam Hartman, if there was any time to pull off a big win like this, it is now. As long as the defense can keep Kyle McCord and the Ohio State offense contained in as few attempts as possible, I think we might stand a chance here. Give me a pick-six to turn the tide and edge the Irish to a victory. Notre Dame 31, Ohio State 28.
Madeline Ladd, Associate Sports EditorThe game we have all been waiting for is finally here. Notre Dame will undoubtedly be tested by the Buckeyes’ elite linebackers and some of the best wide receivers in the country. However, the Irish have a leg up in the quarterback room with veteran Hartman. Opposite him, the Buckeyes’ young McCord has struggled to find his rhythm and may be stunned under the bright lights of a Saturday night primetime game.
The Irish have not put together a complete game yet this season, something vital for success this weekend. Even so, the Buckeyes know this game is a must-win for them and their national championship aspirations. It will be a nail-biter, but Ohio State will ultimately come out victorious. (Prove me wrong, please!) Ohio State 31, Notre Dame 28.
Matthew Crow, Associate Sports EditorThis feels risky, but I’m going with Notre Dame. Unlike last season, the Irish appear to have an offense very capable of scoring on the Buckeyes. For me, the bigger question is whether their defense can hold up against an Ohio State offense that seemed to really find its rhythm while hanging 63 points on Western Kentucky last weekend.
Notre Dame’s secondary will have its hands full with the Buckeyes’ pair of All-American receivers, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. But the Irish should get just enough stops to stay in the game. Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame for matchups like this, and he’ll lead a game-winning drive in the final minutes. Backed by a raucous crowd under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish will officially enter the College Football Playoff race with the biggest win of the Freeman Era to date. Notre Dame 34, Ohio State 31.
Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports WriterI completely believe in the ability of this Notre Dame team to go 11-1 this season. The loss? It is to the Buckeyes. Notre Dame can keep pace with USC this year, while Clemson looks much less challenging than it did a year ago. Ohio State, however, is a different animal entirely. The Buckeyes have a strong defensive line that can challenge and push around the Irish. Hartman will face a lot of pressure as the new guards, Spindler and Coogan, are pushed to their limit.
Defensively, the Irish are facing Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Carnell Tate. Without a doubt, that is the best wide-receiving corps in the country. The only limiting factor is Kyle McCord. I don’t think the Buckeyes can run the ball consistently on the Irish, so McCord will need to make some explosive plays. Notre Dame is completely capable of winning this game, and I do think they will keep it close. But I am going to take the Buckeyes narrowly. Ohio State 28, Notre Dame 24.