Week 1 of the 2022 college football season kicks off with another dandy. While maybe blockbuster in name only, the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish visit the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (). With a new head coach and new quarterback, what needs to go right for Notre Dame to close the gap? Is it logical to assume Ohio State runs away with this one?
Follow along with TheLines coverage of college football odds throughout the entire 2022 season.
Notre Dame at Ohio State Odds
Find the entire slate of College Football Week 1 odds here.
Odds Movement For Notre Dame at Ohio State
This line opened at FanDuel Sportsbook with Ohio State a 13.5-point favorite. It didn’t take long for that line to move to -14.5 and it climbed to -17 by game week. As kickoff draws closer– especially in a game as high-profile as this one– more casual action will jump in.
Barring a surprise major injury, I expect Ohio State’s number to grow. The last time we saw each of these teams in action, Notre Dame was blowing a two-touchdown halftime lead while Ohio State’s offense blew the doors off a stout Utah defense. With three leaders on Heisman Trophy odds boards, the Buckeyes may be that de-facto bet “because they’re Ohio State.”
However, do note that legal sports betting in Ohio won’t launch until Jan. 1, tapering a potential avalanche of Ohio State fans hammering this line.
New Faces For Notre Dame
Marcus Freeman was one of the most lauded head coaching hires from a wild 2022 offseason. He spent last season as the defensive coordinator for the Irish after spending some years building Cincinnati into one of the nation’s top defensive units. Freeman is proven recruiter and a bonafide players coach, with the video of his team going nuts of his hiring making its way viral in the winter.
His first appearance as a head coach featured a second-half meltdown against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. While it’s easy to point to that game and forecast doom, Freeman was playing with Brian Kelly’s team after his departure with minimal prep time.
What may be an issue for the Irish is starting a new quarterback. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is no stranger to rolling into a season with a new QB (this will be his third time in as many seasons), but inexperience is not something he’s dealt with before. The two previous starters under Rees were grad transfer Jack Coan and senior Ian Book.
Tyler Buchner is a dual-threat QB who threw 35 passes for three touchdowns and as many interceptions in 2021. Although talented, he faces one of the nation’s top defensive playcallers, Jim Knowels, and a hardy defensive line for Ohio State. Stunts will likely be adjusted by center Jarrett Patterson, but movement could tempt Buchner into holding onto the ball too long.
Should Knowels’ defense force Notre Dame’s QB to hesitate, that could spell disaster early for the Irish.
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A Potential Killer For Ohio State
Buried underneath names like Trey McBride and Brock Bowers is one of the nation’s top tight ends: Michael Mayer. He presents an extreme matchup disadvantage for Ohio State’s lackluster linebacking corps. A 6′ 4″, 250 pounds, Mayer led Notre Dame in receptions and yards last season.
While most players at linebacker return for Ohio State, they lack size. Converted running back Steele Chambers is an interesting matchup in terms of athleticism and build (6′ 1″, 230 pounds), but he lacked coverage skills in 2021.
Notre Dame fields one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Should they give their young QB some time to find Mayer, Notre Dame’s offense could give Ohio State’s defense fits.
An Experience Mismatch
While Notre Dame has to replace a head coach, QB, lead running back, and find a new top target, Ohio State returns a staggering 73% of production. Among teams that send as many players to the NFL Draft as the Buckeyes do, this is an unheard of amount of returning production (which includes the departure of two first-round receivers).
Phil Steele ranks the Buckeyes’ OL as the third-best in the country and it features multiple All-America candidates (both offensive tackles). CJ Stroud is the Heisman frontrunner (odds) after finishing as a finalist last season (4,435-44-6) and his rapport with superstar receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba is widely known. While his name was buried under Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave for most of the year, JSN set Ohio State records in receptions and yards for a season.
In the Fiesta Bowl, corner Clarence Lewis was unable to corral Oklahoma State’s Tay Martin, who racked up over 100 receiving yards. Across from him is the bigger, more physical Cam Hart, who passed on the NFL to return to Notre Dame. This defensive secondary is ranked highly by multiple outlets, but there’s a track record of not being able to contain explosive receivers, of which Ohio State has multiple of.
Notre Dame at Ohio State Forecast
If you jumped on Ohio State -13.5 early on in the offseason, good for you. I don’t expect this number to come back down below two touchdowns, especially after it grew to 17 points by mid-August. As far as closing line value goes, it was to be had earlier in the offseason.
Buchner has tools to be a playmaker at times, being the dual threat QB on the roster. Him winning the starting job makes Notre Dame more versatile, but he’s being thrown to hellfire in Game 1. As just a sophomore, is the moment too big for Buchner?
A live bet on Ohio State might be the move here. If the Buckeyes get off to a hot start, there may not be a spread or point total high enough. Depending on how the first drive or first quarter for each team goes, consider laying the points on Ohio State live with a look at over the live total.