Well folks, it’s finally here — the first premier opponent of the 2023 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season.
The last 4 weeks have been fun, getting to see the Irish destroy overwhelmed and undermanned opponents with a fantastic QB, stifling defense, and contributions from countless guys, both veteran and rookie. But now, things get real.
The Ohio State Buckeyes, ranked 6th in the AP Poll and sporting a 3-0 record and two All-American wide receivers, are coming to town for a primetime game under the lights on Saturday night. This is one of the biggest games at Notre Dame Stadium this century, as a win will show the Irish are for real under Marcus Freeman, while a loss could signal they’ve got a ways to go (especially if it’s not a competitive game).
So, as fans, it’s our duty to make sure we’re completely prepared for such an important matchup. Yeah, we’ve all heard about Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, and we know Ryan Day is replacing a number of NFL players who departed from the team last season that nearly took down Georgia — but there’s way more to dive into here, and so we need some experts to help guide us as we navigate that research.
So, like we did a couple weeks ago with the NC State Q&A, I decided to reach out to two people to get that insider insight on the Buckeyes.
First, I reached out to Matt Tamanini, Managing Editor over at Land-Grant Holy Land, SB Nation’s one-stop shop for all things OSU. Matt answered a bunch of questions about the team, Ryan Day, eating buckeyes, and more in a slew of just fantastic responses.
Then, I also reached out to Colton Denning, Founder of 2 Stripes CPD (a magnificent website covering college football and other topics), and also of a delightful YouTube channel with over 6,000 subscribers. I gave Colton the gargantuan task of answering 9 “halftime” questions I intended to put in the middle of Matt’s Q&A, as a sort of Q&A-ception because I’m a weirdo who wanted this to be a super long and fun article. Colton handled my odd questions with great aplomb and provided some hilarious and detailed answers.
So, we don’t need to delay this any longer, because there’s SO MUCH info to get to — let’s dive into the Q&A and arm ourselves with all the knowledge we will need heading into Saturday evening.
1. Ryan Day is 48-6 as head coach at Ohio State, and yet it feels like some Buckeyes fans aren’t exactly always thrilled with him (especially losing to Michigan a couple years in a row now). What are your thoughts on Day — does he have what it takes to bring home another national title for OSU at some point soon — maybe even this year?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): I am one of those fans who is not always thrilled with Ryan Day, but almost none of my concerns about the head coach have to do with his football acumen; it is all about how and when he applies his skills and what gets in the way of him doing so. And those articles — because the Ohio State fandom is its own special breed of torture — have generated both a tremendous amount of support and a heaping helping of vitriol and a handful of death threats (no, I’m not kidding).
I have written extensively now for nearly two full years about the fact that he needs to give up offensive play-calling responsibilities, not because he is not capable of calling an incredible game, but because he appears to not be able to call an incredible game on a weekly basis. I don’t think that after two, maybe three years, a head coach anywhere should be calling plays, because the responsibility of being in charge is just too massive. And, as the head coach of one of the largest football programs in the country, he just doesn’t have the bandwidth to put in throughout the week to be as creative and precise as he did when he was exclusively the offensive coordinator.
And, because of that, Day — who I believe is a genius play-caller — ends up defaulting to a handful of concepts that he is comfortable with, which only on occasion are successful. Fortunately for Buckeye fans this week, he does seem to make the time to draw things up for the biggest games, although those tend to be in bowl games.
While I had a ton of issues with Urban Meyer as a coach and a leader of the Ohio State program, the one thing that I could never take away from the guy was his confidence, and that is something that I think can be sometimes missing from Day. Yes, he is confident in his team in general, and yes, he is confident in his abilities as a coach and play-caller, but occasionally, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between those things and what happens on the field.
In the first two weeks of this season, when the Buckeyes appeared to be just slogging through far lesser opponents, it just seemed like he didn’t trust his plan, his coaching staff, or his quarterbacks and it looked like it would eventually bite him in the butt. Fortunately (for us), last week, he seemed to get out of his own way against the admittedly undermanned Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, so perhaps some of that trust is coming back.
And if that’s the case, I think the vast majority of Buckeye fans will be very happy to see that version of Ryan Day on the sidelines for a very long time, but if not, you will likely see more and more fans upset with his performance, especially if he loses a third-straight regular season finale.
2. The Buckeyes are just 3 games into the post-CJ-Stroud era — how’s new starter Kyle McCord been looking so far? What does he do well and what weaknesses does he have that ND might be able to take advantage of?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): During the first two games of the season, McCord wasn’t technically named the starter, even though he did in fact start both games and play starter-like minutes. True sophomore Devin Brown was still technically in the competition for the QB1 role, though you would never know it by how things played out.
However, following the Week 2 win over Youngstown State, Day officially named McCord the starter, and whether or not it had any impact on his performance or not, the QB looked significantly more confident and in control last Saturday against Western Kentucky than he did in any of his previous starts.
Because of all of that confusion early in the season, it is a bit difficult to determine exactly who he is as a quarterback. He was highly touted coming out of high school, so we know he’s talented, but he hasn’t had a ton of opportunities to showcase that yet. I do think that it is safe to say that he is not yet the quarterback that Stroud was either physically or cerebrally; but he has time to get there.
For now, I think what is best for him is to have two options and to get it out quickly. OSU’s offensive line is suspect, so just trusting your playmakers to do what they do is probably the safest way to keep the offense moving. Once you establish the ability to distribute the ball quickly to any number of guys at different spots on the field, that opens up opportunities to go deep and to work in the running game, and that’s probably the best use of Kyle McCord’s talents at this point.
3. McCord obviously has a lot of great skill talent to work with, starting with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. What makes those two so good, and who else should Irish fans know about amongst the receivers/backs on this Buckeyes squad?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): I think what makes these two guys special, beyond the obvious physical gifts that are required for anyone who performs at their level, is the fact that they are both obsessive technicians. Marvin Harrison Jr. post-practice, individual sessions have become something of legend in Buckeye Country. He spent so many hours catching balls from the Monarc machine that the strength and conditioning coach made a rule that he couldn’t do it alone this year. If he wanted to get extra work in, he had to have someone else with him, and more often than not, that’s Emeka Egbuka.
Other than the top-two WRs, TreVeyon Henderson is the guy to keep an eye out for. He is a third-year player who was the No. 1 running back in the 2021 recruiting class. After a fantastic freshman campaign, he spent most of 2022 dealing with injuries. However, thus far, he appears to be completely back to his freshman form. He’s ran for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries so far this year and shown a lot of the burst and creativity that marked his rookie season.
His backup Chip Trayanum has also had a good season through three games. He’s a bit more of a power back, playing both tailback and fullback (and H-back and tight end) at times. He started his career at Arizona State as a RB, transferred to OSU last year to play linebacker, but has moved back to offense fulltime.
Since ND does have the No. 1 pass defense in the country thus far, if they are able to minimize the impact of Marv and Emeka, Ohio State does have other options in former No. 1 WR recruit Julian Fleming (who is finally healthy) and true freshman Carnell Tate.
4. How has OSU looked in the trenches so far this season, on both sides of the ball? How do you think they stack up against ND’s lines?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): The biggest issues on both sides of the ball have been on the respective lines. The defensive line is far less of a concern for the Buckeyes as they have played well, but have yet to get home at the level you would expect, given all of the presumed talent they have. However, they are getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stopping up the run. While the bigger names for the Buckeyes are on the ends, their best linemen might be their starting tackles Mike Hall Jr. and Tyleik Williams. If the OSU defensive line is able to generate pressure without the assistance of a ton of blitzes, I think it will be from those guys inside, rather than from Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau.
However, on offense, this is a legitimate concern. The Buckeyes lost three o-line starters to the NFL this offseason, with two of them already starting in the league. And, in my opinion, thanks to sub-par recruiting in recent years and a hesitancy to embrace the transfer portal at the position, they were left scrambling a bit following spring ball to fill in gaps. They settled on former San Diego State right tackle Josh Simmons. After starting out on the right side in fall camp, he was moved to the left and has been there ever since, but has looked less than stellar.
In pass pro, the unit has been fairly good — they’ve only allowed three sacks this season — but they haven’t played anyone even approaching Notre Dame’s defensive line, so we will see if they are able to hold up.
The bigger concern has been in run blocking. The right side of the line has held up fairly well, but the left has been suspect. The coaching staff says that everything is correctable and that they aren’t thinking about making any changes, but that is clearly the weakest spot on the team through three games.
5. Who are the big names to know on this Jim Knowles defense, and is there anything that really concerns you about the matchup with ND’s productive but mostly untested 2023 offense?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): This year’s OSU defense seems to finally have turned the corner. After a handful of years in which that side of the ball was little more than a sieve, it feels like they’ve finally got top-notch athletes playing in the right spots and being comfortable with the defense.
This is Knowles’ second season in Columbus and the players just seem so much more at home in the system. The biggest difference has been in the secondary; Denzel Burke was a freshman All-American in 2021, but struggled mightily as CB1 last year, partially because of injury and partially because he just looked confused in Knowles’ new scheme.
However, this season, he has been pretty lights out. Then you’ve got safeties Sonny Styles and Lathan Ransom who have also stepped up their game. Both linebackers — Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg — are excellent, with Tommy being an All-American and legitimate Butkus Award candidate. So, while I have no doubt that Audric Estime is going to get his yards, I do think that they Buckeyes are built to at least limit his ability to completely dominate the game.
However, I already mentioned the issues on the defensive line, but don’t get me wrong, the line hasn’t played poorly, it’s just not what you would expect from a unit with two flashy five-star guys on the ends. And given that ND’s offensive line might be the best in the country, that is what concerns me most.
Knowles likes to get pressure on quarterbacks, what defensive coordinator doesn’t? But when the line can’t do it, he will bring a lot of guys on blitzes, and — in my opinion — more often than not, this leads to giving up big plays. So it is imperative for Ohio State to be able to generate pressure on Sam Hartman without sending the house. If they let him sit back in the pocket with all of the time in the world, he will pick them apart. If they send a bunch of guys and vacate large pockets of the defense, he will pick them apart.
So, for me, when the Irish have the ball, the biggest key for the Buckeyes is the performance of the d-line on passing downs.
HALFTIME Q&A WITH COLTON DENNING OF 2 STRIPES CPD
1. Who really scares you on this ND squad when you think about this matchup on Saturday? And who are the top 3-5 guys on Ohio State of whom Irish fans should really be terrified heading into this game?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): It’s the obvious answer, but I’ll go with Sam Hartman. He’s probably the best quarterback Ohio State’s played since the duo of Trevor Lawrence/Mac Jones in the 2020 playoffs, and how he and the Notre Dame offense perform will be the true measure of just how much this defense has actually improved.
As for players on Ohio State, I’ll roll with two obvious picks, and one under-the-radar: Receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, plus cornerback Denzel Burke.
I don’t think I need to expound much to y’all about Harrison Jr. and Egbuka. There isn’t a corner in the country who can neutralize Harrison one-on-one, and he’s so dynamic that it almost overshadows how spectacular Egbuka is. Harrison’s a better deep-threat, but Egbuka is more elusive in space and gets lots of touches on screen passes and short-yardage calls that take advantage of that ability. They have different skillsets, but each can make a game-changing play in any situation.
Burke has an interesting story. He was a freshman All-American in 2021 and looked like Ohio State’s next great corner, but he really struggled last year. He had trouble finding the ball, and just had no confidence in what he was seeing.
Through the first three games of 2023, he’s looked even better than he did as a freshman. His coverage has been sticky, and his ability to lock down whatever his responsibility is has given the rest of Ohio State’s defense the freedom to focus on neutralizing other parts of the opposing offense. I’m sure Hartman isn’t going to be afraid to test him or anyone else on the Buckeyes defense, but he’s gonna have to be on point if he tries Burke.
2. How do you feel about Ryan Day as head coach of the Buckeyes — is he good enough to bring a title back to Columbus, or do you have your doubts about the long-term direction of the program under him? If he were to leave or be fired after this season, would you want OSU to go after Marcus Freeman, or would you want a more established/proven head coach, or someone already in Columbus like Brian Hartline?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): There’s a sizable chunk of Ohio State’s super online fanbase who hate my guts for how critical I am of Day, so that probably tells you all you need to know.
He’s good enough to win a title at Ohio State, but can he actually do it? They blew two double-digit leads against Georgia in a game they should’ve won, just like they blew a double-digit lead, and a separate fourth-quarter lead against Clemson in the 2019 playoffs. They’ve gotten boatraced against Michigan in back-to-back seasons with similar issues killing them in each game (big plays, red zone execution, poor special teams). I can accept certain losses in those type of games if they don’t always come with an excuse — and that’s where my doubts come with Day. There’s a lack of accountability that bleeds into what we see on the field and the mentality of the program.
I’d love nothing more than to be wrong and for him to win a title, but as of now he’s Big Ten Mark Richt with a fun passing game until he proves otherwise. It’d really take them falling off a cliff for him to get fired, but in a scenario where he’s gone, I think my number one choice would be backing up the brinks truck and trying to bring Mike Vrabel home.
3. Why was the OSU mascot named “Brutus” when the most famous Brutus of all-time was a guy who helped betray/assassinate his friend, Julius Caesar?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): Because there couldn’t be anything more Ohio State than assassinating your friend for your own political aspirations. It’s in our blood.
Also, please power rank the following Brutuses:
- Brutus Buckeye
- Marcus Junius Brutus (killed Caesar)
- Brutus Beefcake (pro wrestler)
- Roman Czerniawski (WWII double agent who used the code name “Brutus”)
- Brutus/Bluto (the villain in Popeye)
- Brutus (Dutch rapper)
- Brutus (1970s Canadian band)
- Brutus (Czech rock band)
- Brutus (Norwegian blues rock band)
- Brutus (Belgian post-hardcore rock band)
- Brutus (the sculpture by Michelangelo)
- Brutus (the play by Voltaire)
- Brutus (an unincorporated community in Emmet County, Michigan)
- Brutus Jeans (maker of denim apparel in the 1970s and 1980s)
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD):
1. Brutus Beefcake (pro wrestler)
Here’s the thing: I’ve always hated Beefcake and think he’s one of the worst wrestlers of all-time. But without him, we never get “The Barbershop” incident where Shawn Michaels superkicked Marty Jannetty, then threw him through the window — meaning we never get Shawn’s whole solo career.
2. Marcus Junius Brutus (killed Caesar)
Almost 2000 years later, and we’re still talking about his trick play call on Julius Caesar. We can only hope the Boise State statue of liberty against Oklahoma has that much staying power.
3. Brutus Buckeye
I feel like Brutus’ outfit is in need of a refresh, but I do enjoy the thought of how much it probably pisses off opposing fans when a broadcast is about to go to commercial after an Ohio State touchdown and the last thing they see is Brutus repeatedly punching himself in the head.
4. Brutus (the play by Voltaire)
Given that there was no video at the time, this play might’ve been the closest thing they had to all-22 of the whole Brutus-Caesar incident.
5. Roman Czerniawski (WWII double agent who used the code name “Brutus”)
Feeding false information that led to the surprise at Normandy seems worthy of a top-5 spot.
6. Brutus (the sculpture by Michelangelo)
Impressive detail. I think we need to give out a replica of this each offseason to the scummiest head coach who tells his team he’s staying then dips for another job two days later.
7. Brutus (Belgian post-hardcore rock band)
Their two highest streamed songs on Spotify are called ‘War’ and ‘Liar.’ Sounds like some authentic football guy shit to me.
8. Brutus (Czech rock band)
This guy is one of their members. What a legend.
9. Brutus (1970s Canadian band)
Their Wikipedia says they had over 20 (!) members during the band’s lifetime. They damn near could’ve fielded a starting offense and defense.
10. Brutus (Norwegian blues rock band)
Looks like they haven’t been heard from since 2016. I like to call that “Pulling a Stanford.”
11. Brutus Jeans (maker of denim apparel in the 1970s and 1980s)
Bell-bottoms have never looked good on anyone.
12. Brutus (Dutch rapper)
There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures, and the Dutch.
13. Brutus/Bluto (the villain in Popeye)
Seems like a Michigan Man™
14. Brutus (an unincorporated community in Emmet County, Michigan)
Have to put anything Michigan-related last. Even you guys can appreciate that from an Ohio State fan.
4. Hypothetical: Urban Meyer was instead named Rural Meyer by his parents Bud and Gisela. How does his life, and thus his coaching career, and thus the last 10+ years of OSU football play out differently?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD):
5. OSU is a combined 0-6-1 all-time against Air Force, Princeton, Cornell, Centre College, and Carlisle Indian School. Are the Buckeyes no longer scheduling those teams because they’ve proven to be inferior to all of them and are afraid of racking up more losses, or is there another reason OSU is avoiding rematches with those programs?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): I can only assume Centre College and Carlisle Indian School ran the triple option, and who wants to go against that shit?
6. Wikipedia lists 3 rivalries for OSU football: Michigan, Penn State, and Illinois. Please tell me what the OSU/Illinois rivalry is like and how worried you are that Bret Bielema is about to dominate it for years to come.
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): The greatest thing about the Big Ten moving to divisions in 2011 was Jim Delaney putting Illinois in the B1G West so I didn’t have to watch Ohio State play them every year in November under a sky so gray it looked like they were on a World War II movie set.
7. Is Les Horvath the best football player/dentist combination the world has ever seen? Would it be fair to say the world could really use More Horvaths, not Les?
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): It depends on what your definition of a dentist is. Jack Tatum removed enough teeth back in his day that he probably could’ve been given honorary DMD status.
8. Please build the optimal starting offense and defense for a football team made out of the following OSU alumni/former attendees that I hand-picked from the OSU Wikipedia page:
- R. L. Stine, children’s author of Goosebumps series
- Yang Huiyan, real estate developer and China’s wealthiest woman ($16.2 billion net worth in 2007)
- Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of Federated Department Stores i.e. Macy’s
- Alan Freed, disc jockey, widely credited for coining the term “Rock and Roll”
- Patricia Heaton, Emmy Award-winning actress on Everybody Loves Raymond
- Pee Wee Hunt, jazz trombonist who had a number one hit with the “Twelfth Street Rag” in 1948
- Jim Jinkins, animator and creator of the animated television series Doug
- Reuben Klamer, creator of Milton-Bradley’s The Game of Life, the Art Linkletter Spin-A-Hoop, Gaylord the Walking Dog, Busy Blocks, and Fisher-Price’s training roller skates
- Coyote Peterson, Youtuber and wildlife educator at his channel Brave Wilderness
- Hugh Fullerton, sportswriter, uncovered the Black Sox Scandal
- Henry W. Hofstetter, past president of American Optometric Association and member of National Optometry Hall of Fame
- Robert Bales, former U.S. Army soldier responsible for the Kandahar massacre (didn’t graduate)
- Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer and cannibal (left after one quarter with a 0.45/4.00 GPA)
- Jerrie Mock, aviator and first woman to successfully fly solo around the world
- Greg Oden, amazing basketball player with a promising career cut short by injuries, Indy native like me, proud owner of a prize-winning hog
- Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler, 2-10 career record in Rose Bowls and 0 national titles
- Erden Eruç, first solo human-powered circumnavigator of the Earth, has multiple Guinness world records for ocean rowing
- Paul F. Iams, founder of Iams (B.S. 1937)
- James Akins, Principal Tubist, Columbus Symphony Orchestra (B.M. 1978; M.M. 1982)
- Tyler Joseph, musician and lead singer of the alternative rock duo Twenty One Pilots
- Bruce Vilanch, comedy writer (BFA, 1970)
- J. D. Vance, United States Senator from Ohio
- Melvin De Groote, prolific chemist, with the second most patents in the US, next to Edison
- Roy Plunkett, inventor of teflon (Ph.D. 1936)
- James Howard Snook, gold medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp; 1908 graduate from OSU College of Veterinary Medicine; inventor of the “snook hook” surgical instrument; executed in February 1930 for murder*
*side note: James Howard Snook’s little description on Wikipedia has EVERYTHING — what a ride
**another side note: I (Pat Rick) took the liberty of creating some very special Microsoft Paint/PowerPoint photoshops to help us all visualize some of these folks at their respective positions — please blame me, not Colton, for their horrible quality
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD):
- QB: Yang Huiyan (real estate developer and China’s wealthiest woman) — You gotta be QB with that much money.
- RB: Jeffrey Dahmer (serial killer and cannibal) — I mean, he was pretty elusive there for a while, right?
- WR1: Greg Oden (amazing basketball player with a promising career cut short by injuries and proud owner of a prize-winning hog) — No one’s winning a 50/50 ball against him
- WR2: R. L. Stine (children’s author of Goosebumps series) — We know this guy can put up big numbers
- WR3: Pee Wee Hunt (jazz trombonist who had a number one hit with the “Twelfth Street Rag” in 1948) — Just sounds like a great slot receiver name
- TE: Tyler Joseph (musician and lead singer of the alternative rock duo Twenty One Pilots) — Honestly this sounds like a kid who transferred from Notre Dame to Ohio State.
- LT: Roy Plunkett (inventor of teflon) — I want the guy who invented teflon protecting the blindside
- LG: Jim Jinkins (animator and creator of the animated television series Doug) — Tell me that doesn’t sound like a second-team All-Big Ten left guard name
- C: James Akins (Principal Tubist, Columbus Symphony Orchestra)
- RG: Reuben Klamer (creator of Milton-Bradley’s The Game of Life, the Art Linkletter Spin-A-Hoop, Gaylord the Walking Dog, Busy Blocks, and Fisher-Price’s training roller skates)
- RT: Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler (2-10 career record in Rose Bowls and 0 national titles) — He was committed to running the ball, I’ll give him that.
- LDE: Coyote Peterson (Youtuber and wildlife educator at his channel Brave Wilderness) — Coyote Peterson is giving your QB hell off the edge
- DT: James Howard Snook (gold medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp; 1908 graduate from OSU College of Veterinary Medicine; inventor of the “snook hook” surgical instrument; executed in February 1930 for murder)
- NT: Erden Eruç (first solo human-powered circumnavigator of the Earth, has multiple Guinness world records for ocean rowing) — If he’s powerful enough to circumnavigate the earth, he’s powerful enough to plug up the A gap.
- RDE: Fred Lazarus, Jr. (founder of Federated Department Stores, i.e. Macy’s)
- MLB: Melvin De Groote (prolific chemist, with the second most patents in the U.S., next to Edison) — Seems like the ideal middle linebacker
- OLB: Hugh Fullerton (sportswriter, uncovered the Black Sox Scandal) — We’re running a 4-2-5 so I need my linebackers to be able to diagnose. I know I’m getting that out of the guy who uncovered the Black Sox scandal
- CB: Henry W. Hofstetter (past president of American Optometric Association and member of National Optometry Hall of Fame) — Need my starting corner to have good eyes. He fits the bill.
- CB: Bruce Vilanch (comedy writer)
- STAR: Patricia Heaton (Emmy Award-winning actress on Everybody Loves Raymond) — She’s probably got the most NIL value on the team.
- SS: Alan Freed (disc jockey, widely credited for coining the term “Rock and Roll”) — If a dude is gonna coin the term “Rock and Roll,” he’s definitely gonna blow up a receiver streaking across the middle
- FS: Jerrie Mock (aviator and first woman to successfully fly solo around the world) — She flew around the world. What more type of range could you ask for from a free safety?
Pat Rick Note: we’re gonna bring Colton back at the end of the article for his game prediction, but for now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled Q&A with Land-Grant Holy Land and ask Matt some of the questions you beautiful people submitted on Twitter this week!!!
6. FAN QUESTION:
How’s Lorenzo Styles fitting in— Michael Muto (@MichaelMuto) September 17, 2023
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that, because he’s really not playing much. He has not logged a single defensive snap yet (he moved from wide receiver to cornerback when he transferred) and only played 13 snaps on special teams according to Pro Football Focus.
Since his younger brother is one of OSU’s starting safeties, I’m sure that he is enjoying playing with him, but otherwise, he’s not worked himself into the defensive lineup as of yet.
7. FAN QUESTION:
Is the act of eating a buckeye pro-OSU or anti-OSU behavior? On the one hand, it’s a tasty candy that matches your mascot. On the other hand, you are biting, chewing, and swallowing your mascot. (I’ve had the same thought about VT selling turkey legs at their stadium)— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) September 17, 2023
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): I am glad that you made the distinction between an actual buckeye and a candy buckeye, because when I read the first sentence of your question, my mind was going in a different direction. The actual nut from which our admittedly bizarre mascot comes from is mildly poisonous. If you ate one, it likely wouldn’t kill you, perhaps it would just lead to some dry heaving and stomach cramps.
But, the delicious chocolate and peanut butter bonbons are a much different story. I understand the question, and I appreciate your confusion, but as someone who went to Catholic school for my entire upbringing, let me put it in blasphemous terms that I think Notre Dame fans will understand.
A buckeye, to us, is our Eucharist. When thought of in logical terms, eating “the body of Christ” or “the smaller sibling of Brutus” are equally strange when you consider the reverence with which both Catholics and Ohio State fans worship their respective lords and saviors. So, as we ingest the sweet, multi-layered confections, it is not only delighting our taste buds, but it is also nourishing our souls. So, you see, brothers and sisters, eating these morsels of goodness actually brings us closer to Ohio State’s holy trinity of The Father (Woody Hayes), The Son (Brutus Buckeye), and the Holy Spirit (Glen Johnson, the first sousaphone player to ever dot the “i” in Script Ohio).
8. FAN QUESTION:
I’m from Toledo where it’s 50/50 OSU-UM fans. The rivalry is huge there, but I genuinely can’t remember anyone referring to it as “The Game” outside of the week it was happening. The nickname feels like a Fox/media creation from the past 5/10 years to me-am I missing something?— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) September 17, 2023
For example - if you said “Man, I still can’t believe we lost The Game” to a diehard Buckeye or Wolverine in February, they would assume you were talking about a recent basketball game, not the Ohio State-Michigan football game.— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) September 17, 2023
Side note: I just lost the game.
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): I don’t know if it is a Fox or media thing or not, but I do agree that this is a recent thing. Growing up, we always would have referred to it as “The Michigan Game” (I am also old enough to remember when it wasn’t sacrilegious to refer to them by name). And while, I will throw around both “The Game” and “The Team Up North” parlance, it feels unnecessary to me.
Just calling the game — or any game — “The Game” also seems very unhelpful for clarity’s sake. Go ahead and Google “Who won The Game in 2022?” You know what it doesn’t tell you? That Michigan won 45-23 (now that I think about it, this might not be a bad thing). It reminds me of the geniuses over at Warner Bros. Discovery who changed the name of their flagship streaming service from “HBO Max” to just “Max.” It’s a completely unnecessary move, but it also just makes things more confusing.
9. FAN QUESTION:
Screw Michigan, am I right?— Harry Joe (@Joseph_Socks) September 17, 2023
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): My friend, while I am sure that you have been right many, many times in your life, there has never been a moment when you were more right than when you submitted this very question.
10. Alright let’s get down to it: who wins this game, what’s the final score, and how do you think it happens?
Matt Tamanini (Land-Grant Holy Land): Dude, I don’t know, I was hoping you could tell me. Before I go on, I just want to preface this by saying, I’m a homer, so I am going to ultimately pick Ohio State and I hope you understand that and don’t hate me for it. But, I would like to see Notre Dame take the next step forward as a program. I am certainly rooting for Marcus Freeman to be successful. Despite the issues early last season, I think institutionally, he’s done a lot of really good things in his first two years at the helm.
But I am going to fall back on the one thing that he just hasn’t had the time to do yet, and that is upgrade the talent on the roster. As an outsider, I always assume ND is going to be good along the lines, and I think that’s true this year, and under Freeman, I trust that the defense will be stout, but it’s the offensive skill position players that I think are the final piece that has to click in.
Obviously the addition of Sam Hartman is a huge step up at the quarterback position, but I think that the biggest difference between these two teams is in the firepower that OSU has on offense. And while I know that recruiting talent does not guarantee on field success, if I think that so much of the other matchups are equal or at least balance out, I have to side with the team that has the two best wide receivers in the country.
So, I am going to go Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 27 (but I reserve the right to change that between now and my official pick on Saturday).
Colton Denning (2 Stripes CPD): This one’s a toss-up to me. I wouldn’t be shocked at nearly any outcome here, outside of a blowout in either direction. Both teams are facing their best opponent so far by a wide margin — with all due respect to an NC State team who I think is solid — who can test them in ways they haven’t been tested yet. I think Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame defense force Kyle McCord to beat them, and I can’t lie and say I’m not more than a little nervous about how that’ll play out. Ohio State’s run game hasn’t yet proven they can punish an opposing defense for a full game, and if they struggle to run, can McCord make the throws necessary for the Buckeyes to win? I honestly don’t know. On the flip side, the matchup between Notre Dame’s offensive line and Ohio State’s defensive front probably decides who wins.
At the risk of sounding like a homer everyone in the comments is going to hate, Ohio State still has more talent than Notre Dame, and it’s enough to make me think they pull out a close game. Ohio State has a better chance at containing Notre Dame’s offensive weapons than ND does containing guys like Harrison and Egbuka.
Both of them make at least one massive play, and Ohio State gets a narrow 27-24 win on the road because of them.
Alrighty folks, I want to give another massive thank you and shout-out to Matt and Colton for answering a total of 19 questions (many of them involving sub-questions or way more effort and thought than your run-of-the-mill Q&A inquiries), and also answering them with a ton of detail, fantastic insight and analysis, and probably some of the funniest answers we’ve gotten in a while.
I encourage you all to head over to Land-Grant Holy Land over the next couple days to take in all their coverage heading into this game, and of course also insist you go to 2 Stripes CPD, as Colton is churning out some amazing and entertaining content over there about the entire college football landscape. Oh, and give his YouTube channel a look as well — some awesome stuff in there, especially if you’re trying to waste time today and tomorrow as you anxiously wait for the weekend to get here.
Furthermore, I implore you all to go over to Twitter (while it’s still free, amiright??!?), and toss some follows in the direction of Land-Grant Holy Land, Matt, and Colton — they’re all superb follows and I can’t recommend them enough.
With all that said, that’s it for this week. For anyone going to the game and wanting to share a High Life or 10, let’s do so. And for everyone else, my final message is the same as it always is — GO IRISH, BEAT BUCKEYES!