Ohio State begins Notre Dame week as 17.(*30*)-point favorites over the Fighting Irish



No. 2 Ohio State kicks off the 2022 college football season on Saturday. Unlike most years, the Buckeyes don’t open with a perceived cupcake game, instead welcoming No. (*30*) Notre Dame to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1995.(*17*)

While this is the marquee game of the weekend between two of college football’s blueblood programs, the spread looks more like one of previous Scarlet and Gray openers. According to Caesars Sportsbook, Ohio State is a 17.(*30*)-point favorite heading into game week. Many oddsmakers have had the Buckeye as two-touchdown favorites as odds were released during the offseason but that spread has now climbed to a three-score margin.(*17*)

The Fighting Irish are led into Ohio Stadium by first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, who took over for Brian Kelly, who left for LSU, at the end of last season. Freeman was in charge of the team in the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma State, a contest Notre Dame lost 37-35.(*17*)

Heading into the new year, the Irish have to replace a number of talented players from a team that went 11-2 and finished No. 8 in the country. Quarterback Jack Coan and running back Kyren Williams are now both in the NFL after leading the team in passing and rushing respectively last season. Sophomore Tyler Buchner has been named the starting quarterback and junior Chris Tyree is expected to step in at running back. Junior tight end Michael Mayer was Notre Dame’s leading receiver last year with 70 catches for 840 yards and returns this season.(*17*)

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Three of the Irish’s top four tacklers from the 2021 season return. Additionally, fourth-year junior cornerback Cam Hart, who had seven passes defended and two interceptions last year, is back to help lead the way against a talented Ohio State passing attack.(*17*)

That Buckeye passing attack is part of what is expected to again be one of the best offenses in the country. Third-year quarterback C.J. Stroud and classmate Jaxon Smith-Njigba are joined by sophomore running back TreVeyon Henderson as three of the most talented players in the country.(*17*)

Defensively is where the Scarlet and Gray will have to answer questions this year. After back-to-back subpar years on that side of the ball, head coach Ryan Day rebuilt his defensive staff in the offseason, including hiring Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State to be his defensive coordinator. Ohio State has a number of players returning defensively and will be a more experienced group than the team was when struggling last season.(*17*)

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While this game, which will kick off at 7-30 p.m. ET on ABC on Saturday night, is being billed as one of the biggest games of the college football season, the oddsmakers believe the Buckeyes should have few issues with Notre Dame at home to begin the year.(*17*)