Ohio State football: 5 things to know about Notre Dame game, series

Ohio State is set to kick off the 2022 season by playing host to Notre Dame on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes are favored by more than 17 points, something Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman might have actually found as good news during his press conference in South Bend on Monday.

ExploreOhio State defensive installation coming along

“I’m gonna write that down,” he said before asking with a wink, “You said 17.5 points? We’ll use that in the team meeting today. Ya know, it’s good to know. I haven’t paid that much attention to the spread.”

Freeman, who was named head coach in December and led the team against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, has seven starters back on each side of the ball from a team that went 11-2.

Here are five things to know about the Fighting Irish and their series against the Buckeyes:

1. These are two of the top five programs of all time, and they are expected to be top five teams this season.

Ohio State will begin the season No. 2 in the Associated Press poll while the Fighting Irish are fifth.

Officially (after adjusting for wins vacated as a result of NCAA violations), the Buckeyes are tied with Alabama for second in all-time Division I wins with 942 while Notre Dame is fourth with 929.

Notre Dame has eight Associated Press national championships while Ohio State has five, but both schools claim more than that.

2. Notre Dame won the first two matchups.

The Fighting Irish needed a miraculous comeback to win the first meeting, which is one of several games to be called “The Game of the Century” around the time it was played in 1935.

Ohio State led 13-0 entering the fourth quarter, but Notre Dame halfback William Shakespeare threw a game-winning touchdown pass with no time left to complete an 18-13 victory.

The decision ultimately prevented Ohio State from having an unbeaten season in its second year under enigmatic coach Francis Schmidt, whose tenure included several similar one-score defeats when his teams seemed to be on the verge of a national breakthrough.

Notre Dame won the following year in South Bend by a score of 7-2, one of three one-score losses for the Buckeyes that season.

3. Ohio State has won the last four.

The teams did not play from 1937-94, but they have faced each other four times since ‘95.

While two losses against the Fighting Irish sullied Schmidt’s record, they were among the biggest wins at Ohio State for John Cooper six decades later.

In 1995, seventh-ranked Ohio State rallied from a 17-14 halftime deficit to win 45-26.

St. Henry’s Bobby Hoying threw four touchdown passes, including an iconic 83-yard catch-and-run by Terry Glenn in the third quarter, and Eddie George ran for 207 yards for the Buckeyes.

A year later, No. 4 Ohio State went to South Bend and topped No. 5 Notre Dame 29-16 as Pepe Pearson ran for 173 yards.

Those were the last on-campus meetings, but Ohio State handled Notre Dame two more times in the Fiesta Bowl in the last decade, a 34-20 decision to cap the 2005 season and a 44-28 victory to close the 2015 campaign.

4. The Notre Dame coaching staff has a heavy Ohio influence.

That of course starts with Freeman, a Wayne High School graduate who was the defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish last season.

The former Ohio State linebacker’s staff includes Wayne grad Mike Mickens, who played cornerback at Cincinnati and is among the rising stars in his profession.

Running backs coach Deland McCullough is from Youngstown and was a star player at Miami University, where he was also an assistant coach for a season, while linebackers coach Al Washington is a Columbus native who most recently was linebackers coach at Ohio State.

Special teams coordinator Brian Mason is a Denison grad.

5. Notre Dame has nine players from Ohio.

That includes two starters: center Zeke Correll of Cincinnati Anderson and receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. of Pickerington Central.

Aamil Wagner, a freshman offensive lineman from Yellow Springs who graduated from Wayne High School, is the only area high school alumnus on the Fighting Irish roster.

Styles’ younger brother, Sonny, is a freshman safety at Ohio State, and their father, Lorenzo Sr., was a standout linebacker for the Buckeyes in the early ‘90s.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Notre Dame at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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