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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State‘s biggest game so far this season kicks off Saturday, with the sixth-ranked Buckeyes taking on No. 9 Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. on NBC4. Unlike the first three games, this one will be difficult for bettors to capitalize on.
Last week, bettors backing the Buckeyes to win big were rewarded after a 63-10 victory over Western Kentucky. The 53-point win far exceeded the spread of 28 points, and the total of 64 went well over at 73. It was the first time this season the Buckeyes have covered and the total went over.
For the showdown against the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Indiana, the sportsbooks are keeping the spread and moneyline razor thin.
Odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook. For a full explanation on how to read betting odds, click here.
Moneyline: Ohio State (-166), Notre Dame (+140)
Spread: Ohio State (-3, [-115]), Notre Dame (+3, [-105])
Total: 55 points (Over & Under, -110)
- In seven previous meetings between the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish, Ohio State has won five times by double digits. The closest was last year’s 21-10 win at Ohio Stadium. Notre Dame has not beaten Ohio State since 1936, a 7-2 win in South Bend.
- The total of 55 has been exceeded in just three of the previous seven meetings. In 2023, the total has gone over 54.5 points in just one Buckeyes game and in three of the Fighting Irish’s four games.
- In its last 10 games as home underdogs dating to 2009, the Fighting Irish are 6-4 and have covered the spread in seven of those games. Its last game as a home underdog was November 2022 against Clemson (-3.5), which ended as a 35-14 win for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has also covered the spread in its last six September games against ranked opposition.
- This is the first time Ohio State is favored by 3 points or less since its 2016 playoff semifinal against Clemson, which it lost 31-0. The Buckeyes have won seven of the last 10 games they entered as favorites by a field goal or less, covering the spread in six of those games.
- Among those games the Buckeyes won: 2016 at Oklahoma, 2015 at Michigan, and 2012 at Penn State.
Why the Buckeyes can cover
If Ohio State goes about the Notre Dame game as “business as usual” and wins, recent history suggests they should be able to beat the Fighting Irish by more than a field goal.
Ohio State has won its last 14 games by more than three points, with its last win by that margin coming in the 2021 Rose Bowl against Utah. In the regular season, the Buckeyes have won 42 consecutive games by more than a field goal. The last time they did not was in its 2018 overtime win over Maryland 52-51.
On the field, the Buckeyes offense will hope to put up more points against the Irish than in 2022. Its offensive production was hindered early last season by an injury to receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first quarter. A fully healthy offense fresh off a 63-point performance could produce fireworks.
The defensive side of the ball has been excellent for Ohio State, allowing only 6.3 points per game, which ranks second-best in FBS. A healthy offense mixed with an in-form defense could extend another impressive Buckeyes streak: nonconference wins on the road. The Buckeyes’ last nonconference road loss came in 2011 against the University of Miami.
Why Notre Dame can cover
Week 1 jitters and a lack of offensive chemistry can certainly be factored into the Fighting Irish’s performance in 2022. This time around? Notre Dame is coming into the game against Ohio State red-hot from the previous four weeks and with a star quarterback.
Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman has been a revelation for the Fighting Irish, leading the team to 40-plus-point performances in all four wins, all while throwing 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions. That’s on par for his final season at Wake Forest, where he led a Demon Deacons offense that averaged 35 points per game.
His passing efficiency and experience in big games while at Wake Forest could certainly mean a difficult time for the Ohio State defense, which allowed 39 points a game in its three games against top 10 teams last season.
The Fighting Irish also boast success against Big Ten opponents, winning 14 of the last 20 games and seven of the last nine in South Bend.
All those factors could convince bettors that the Fighting Irish can upset the Buckeyes and even if they don’t win, keep the game within three points.
Notable player props
- Notre Dame running back Audric Estime is the favorite to score the first touchdown of the game (+650). He has scored five times this season, including scoring the Fighting Irish’s first TD in two of its four games.
- Each Buckeyes player who scored a TD in last year’s game against Notre Dame has positive odds to score: Emeka Egbuka (+105), Miyan Williams (+140), and Xavier Johnson (+245).
- Kyle McCord’s passing yards total is set at 265.5 (-115 Over & Under). He only exceeded that last week against Western Kentucky with 318 passing yards. Hartman is set at 241.5 (-140 Over, +105 Under). He’s gone over that in three of four games, with Ohio State only allowing 242 passing yards or more in four games last season.
- Marvin Harrison Jr.’s receiving yards total is at 89.5 (-115 Over & Under). He has gone over that amount in nine of his last 16 games.
Longest odds wager
Two Ohio State players who haven’t appeared much this season have betting props available to score three or more touchdowns, and they share the longest odds. Running back Dallan Hayden and tight end Joe Royer each have odds set at +25,000 to score three-plus touchdowns.
A $10 wager on those odds would cash for $2,500. A $100 wager would cash for $25,000.