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CFB Extended Data Preview: Notre Dame vs Ohio State

Some data cuts for both teams going into the 2023 showdown in South Bend.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Central Michigan at Notre Dame Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So we’ve finally arrived at Buckeye weekend. It seems like we’ve been building towards this moment since the first kickoff of the Navy game and all analysis/commentary through the season’s first four game have been targeted at this weekend.

There’s a lot to cover so let’s just pull off the Band-Aid.

Opponent History

Not having grown up in the Midwest or as a Notre Dame fan, the significance of Notre Dame-Ohio State never really resonated with me until recently. Since 1935, the two program have technically (including bowl games) played seven times. The Irish pulled off the series’ first two victories with (1935 & 1936) by a +5 point difference.

The Buckeyes and the Irish would not meet again until 1995 and in the following five matchups Notre Dame has been on a winning drought. The point differences for the Irish have ranged between -19 and -11. The tightest loss margin, -11 came in last year’s season opener in Columbus. If you factor that in with where the program is today, I’d say that we’re on the cusp of a really close game between the Midwest powerhouses.

Ohio State Schedule Overview

Ohio State finished of the 2022 regular season 11-1 with its only loss coming in a 23-45 implosion against Michigan. Last season the buckeyes closest wins came against Notre Dame, Penn State, Northwestern and Maryland.

While their opponents haven’t been the most competitive, OSU is 3-0 in 2023 and have progressively been getting better in terms of win margins.

Total Offense Summary for Ohio State

Ohio State has averaged 489 total yards of offense per game across the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Their most standout performances came against Toledo, Michigan State and Indiana in 2022 and they struggled the most offensively against Iowa and Northwestern.

While they got off to a notably less than average start in 2023 against Indiana, they’re tracking back in a strong direction through their last two games.

With the exception of the Rutgers, Northwestern and Indiana (2022), the Buckeye’s offensive attack has primarily been dominated by the passing game.

Rushing Summary for Ohio State

Ohio State has averaged 35 rushing attempts per game between the 2022 and 2023 seasons. A lot of their highs came in 2022 but in 2023 they’ve averaged around 30 attempts per game. What they’ve been able to get for those attempts have varied notably but in their most recent matchup against Western Kentucky OSU averaged 6.2 yards on 33 attempts.

Passing Summary for Ohio State

The Buckeyes have posted very high pass completion rates per game. Some of their best performances came in the fist portion of the 2022 season and trickled off slightly following the 38% outing against Northwestern.

Ohio State started off the 2023 season with a 58% completion rate against Indiana and will be coming into South Bend having completed 81% of their passes against Western Kentucky. Similar to Notre Dame, OSU has been making big pass plays in 2023, tallying up an average of 10.9 yards per completion against Youngstown State and 13.3 yards per completion against Western Kentucky.

Turnover Summary for Ohio State

The Buckeyes have averaged 1.25 turnovers per game through the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The balance between fumbles and interceptions has been relatively balanced. But in 2023 the ratio is 2:1 in favor of interceptions. Against Western Kentucky, OSU gave up both a fumble and interception.

Notre Dame Trends – Ball Movement

In terms of ball movement, the Irish will be going into Week 4 with its best performance against Tennessee State and worst performance against NC State.

Notre Dame Trends – Passing

Notre Dame has averaged 509 yards of total offense through its first 4 games, with passing yards accounting for the bulk per game. There’s been some movement in terms of passing yards per game but the Irish are going into this weekend coming off a season high. Since the Tennessee State game there has been a gradual downtick in total completions and completion percentages but those stats haven’t really impacted things in the larger scheme.

Notre Dame Trends – Rushing

There’s been some movement in terms of rushing yards per game but the Irish are going into this weekend coming off a season high. The team is on an uptick in terms of rushing attempts and collectively averaging between 5 and 7 yards per carry.

Notre Dame Trends – Negative Stats

Notre Dame has two total turnovers so far in 2023 and they were split between the Tennessee State and NC State games. Penalties and penalty yards have been a struggle stat. The team hit a season high against NC State but managed to bring it down (marginally) against Central Michigan.

Final Thoughts

I think that this weekend’s game is going to live up to all of the hype.

Both teams are coming into the matchup pretty balanced and coming into full form. Even though the Buckeyes haven’t necessarily been tested yet in 2023, looking at their collective 2022-2023 resume gives no reason to believe that they’ve fallen off.

I can see the outcome going either way and the Irish’s chances for winning will likely hinge on breaking the slow start streak, being aggressive on defense and not shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. If they can excel in those three areas, I give it to Notre Dame in a nail biter.

Cheers and Go Irish!!