Game: Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Ohio State Buckeyes
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Irish +16, Buckeyes -16
Notre Dame is a 16-point underdog in its season opener against Ohio State, the biggest underdog in an opener for the Irish in the last fifty years. Notre Dame first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, a former Ohio State linebacker, begins his coaching career in Columbus against an Ohio State squad that is 15-4-1 ATS in its last 20 season openers and 7-3 ATS in their last ten regular season games versus AP Top-10 opponents. Notre Dame is 7-13 ATS in its last 20 clashes with AP Top-5 teams and will be missing star wide receiver Avery Davis, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee in August.
“When you lose Avery, it thins out a room that’s already thin,” Freeman said. Without Davis, only two receivers – Braden Lenzy and Lorenzo Styles – have caught more than 20 passes in a season. However, Ohio State allowed a touchdown on nearly 74% of its opponents’ red-zone drives last year, the third-worst mark in college football. The Buckeyes also allowed their opponents to convert 41.8% of their third downs, the second-worst rate in the Big Ten Conference.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day made one of the best hires of the offseason by bringing in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The veteran playcaller significantly improved Oklahoma State’s defense and transformed the way in which the program won games. Ohio State is expected to continue to play out of the 4-2-5 and Knowles is known for generating pressure with his front seven.
Notre Dame will be starting a new quarterback in Tyler Buchner, who was the No. 41 prospect in the 2021 class and one of the top quarterbacks overall. Ohio State welcomes back third-year quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Stroud completed more than 80% of his attempts in three of his final four games and passed for 2,165 yards in his final five contests. Over the last nine games last season, Stroud had just three interceptions – against 36 touchdown passes.
Since 2000, Ohio State is 11-0 SU and 10-0-1 ATS in season-openers versus an opponent it defeated in the last head-to-head meeting. Since 2010, Ohio State is 6-0-1 ATS in season-openers as a favorite of less than 34 points if the total is less than 65 points. Since 2007, the Buckeyes are 10-0 SU and ATS as favorites of more than seven points in Weeks 1-4 versus opponents they went over the total against in their previous head-to-head meeting. Under coach Day, the Buckeyes are 13-4-1 ATS in October or earlier, covering the spread by 11.4 points per game.
Since 2006, Notre Dame is 4-5 SU and 0-9 ATS in road affairs during the first two weeks of the regular season. In their past ten games away from home versus top-10 opponents, the Fighting Irish are 0-10 and have lost by an average of 16.4 points per game. The Irish have lost eleven straight road games versus top-5 opponents by an average of 19.6 points per game, with seven by at least 17 points. Let’s also note that Ohio State is 4-0 SU and ATS versus Notre Dame over the last 50 years. Lay the points with the Buckeyes and invest with confidence.
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