Why is Notre Dame such a massive underdog against Ohio State? (*23*) starts with a huge talent gap

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(*19*)Quarterback(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 42 overall in 2020(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)Tyler Buchner, QB, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 71 overall in 2021(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)On the surface, Buchner helps close the gap to the upper echelon of college football. He’s a decorated recruit, a legitimate top-100 talent. Thing is, the Buckeyes have a Heisman finalist on the other side of the field. Meanwhile, Buchner has played one full season of football (2019) as the starter since his freshman year of high school.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Buchner has the potential for greatness. Stroud is already there. And given that Buchner is making his first career start, the gap could not feel wider between the two. (*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*19*)Running Back(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 23 overall in 2021(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)Chris Tyree, RB, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 70 overall in 2020(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Henderson was a revelation as a true freshman in 2021, rushing for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns on 6.(*29*) yards per carry. He had four carries of 40-plus yards, equaling the Irish’s team total for the season. (*(*29*)*)(*3*)A big play threat and a reliable down-to-down back, Henderson is one of the best in the country.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Tyree could be by season’s end. He has the recruiting pedigree. But he’s coming off a campaign in which he averaged just four yards per carry, totaling 222 yards and a single touchdown as a sophomore. Tyree was a much bigger threat as a pass catcher – he averaged 10.(*29*) yards per touch that way – but it’ll be tough for Notre Dame to replace (*19*)Kyren Williams.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

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(*19*)Wide Receiver(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 29 overall in 2020
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 97 overall in 2021
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Julian Fleming, WR, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 3 overall in 2020 class(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*19*)Braden Lenzy, WR, Notre Dame
(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 215 overall in 2018
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Lorenzo Styles, WR, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 115 overall in 2021 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Jayden Thomas. WR, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 308 overall in 2021 class(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Ohio State had as many first-round draft picks at wide receiver (2) in 2022 than the Irish have had since 1989. This isn’t meant to dismiss some of the great Notre Dame pass catchers of this millennium – (*19*)Michael Floyd, (*19*)Golden Tate, (*19*)Chase Claypool, etc — but it does highlight just how loaded OSU has been at the position of late. (*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)The Buckeyes lost two first-rounders and still return their leading receiver (Smith-Njigba) from last year. Additionally, the projected Buckeye two-deep at the position is six-for-six on top-100 recruits. (*(*29*)*)(*3*)Notre Dame, meanwhile, lacks a single receiver with a 400-yard season in his career. Outside skill has been a bugaboo for Notre Dame the last few seasons, and it’s unclear if that’ll change in 2022.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*19*)Offensive Line(*15*)

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(*3*)(*19*)Paris Johnson, LT, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 9 overall in 2020 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Donovan Jackson, LG, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 19 overall in 2021 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 108 overall in 2020 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Matthew Jones, RG, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 68 overall in 2018 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Dawand Jones, RT, Ohio State
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 1,043 overall in 2019 class(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)(*19*)Joe Alt, LT, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 408 overall in 2021 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Jarrett Patterson, LG, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 369 overall in 2018 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Zeke Correll, C, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 95 overall in 2019 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Josh Lugg, RG, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 120 overall in 2017 class
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)(*19*)Blake Fisher, RT, Notre Dame
(*(*29*)*)(*3*)247Sports Composite- No. 55 overall in 2021 class(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Unlike some other positions, the Irish are as talented as Ohio State along the offensive line. Offensive line strength has long defined the Notre Dame program. But it faltered last year, ranking 70(*(*29*)*)(*3*)th(*(*29*)*)(*3*) in average line yards per carry and 84(*(*29*)*)(*3*)th(*(*29*)*)(*3*) in sack rate, per Football Outsiders. Ohio State ranked seventh and fourth in those categories, respectively.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

(*3*)Part of Notre Dame’s issues were due to injury, and the unit did play better as the season went along. But the Irish’s o-line enters the season limping with preseason All-American (*19*)Jarrett Patterson questionable to play in Columbus.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)

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(*3*)Ohio State, meanwhile, lost a pair of draft picks to the NFL and replaced both of them with former five-star prospects- Johnson at LT for (*19*)Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jackson at LG for (*19*)Thayer Munford.(*(*29*)*)(*15*)
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