No. 9 Notre Dame vs No. 6 Ohio State: Numbers to know before Saturday’s kickoff
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame has lost its last five games against Ohio State, dating back to the home-and-home series in the mid-90s with two Fiesta Bowl defeats in the interim. With no future game scheduled, the No. 9 Irish (4-0) may not get another chance to end this losing streak to the No. 6 Buckeyes (3-0) for a long while.
Some numbers to keep in mind tonight at kickoff at 7:30 ET on NBC …
37: Drives led by Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman.
28: Scoring opportunities as a result of those Hartman-directed drives.
22: Touchdowns on those scoring opportunities.
13: Including 13 Hartman touchdown passes, with no interceptions, and …
2: Hartman rushing touchdowns.
Sam Hartman's first season as a starting quarterback at Wake Forest was in 2018 when Urban Meyer was still at Ohio State.— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) September 21, 2023
4: Rushing touchdowns this season by Ohio State junior running back TreVeyon Henderson, a dangerous threat once in space outside the tackle box, a worry for Notre Dame fifth-year linebackers Marist Liufau and Jack Kiser today, as well as something to keep in mind for defensive ends Jordan Botelho and Nana Osafo-Mensah, sometimes sacrificing penetration to set the edge.
5: Rushing touchdowns this season by Notre Dame junior running back Audric Estimé, more a threat to bounce off would-be tacklers until he is through the second level.
80: Estimé’s career-long touchdown run, enjoyed immediately after the nearly two-hour rain delay at North Carolina State two weeks ago, in part a result of him cutting down his Popeye’s habit by 75 percent this offseason, going from enjoying it twice a week to just once every two weeks and finding a leaner speed, as a result.
3.70: Points allowed by the Notre Dame defense per opponent quality drive this season, No. 1 in the country, per cfb-graphs.com. Quite a change from last season, when the Irish gave up touchdowns on red-zone possessions more often than any other team in the country.
4.9 percent: Notre Dame rushes the ball 4.9 percent more often than the average team does given game state. To say that more simply, when factoring in down, distance, time and score, the Irish run more often than would be expected, more often than all but 26 teams in the country would. Against the Buckeyes, that could stand out, given how Michigan has exposed Ohio State with big plays after wearing them down with a bruising rushing attack each of the last two seasons.
Now 9 fumbles by the opposition, 7 forced by ND. Have recovered 0— Jamie Uyeyama (@jamieuyeyama) September 16, 2023
22: Career starts among Ohio State’s left tackle Josh Simmons, center Carson Hinzman and right tackle Josh Fryar, nine of them coming from the first three games of this season and the other 13 all coming from Simmons at San Diego State last season.
68: Career starts among Notre Dame’s left tackle Joe Alt (25), center Zeke Correll (24) and right tackle Blake Fisher (19), including starting four games apiece this season.
6: Jersey number of Ohio State safety Sonny Styles, the younger brother of former Notre Dame receiver and current Buckeyes cornerback Lorenzo Styles. Sonny, not Lorenzo, will play tonight and could play a key role as a do-everything defensive back, single-handedly adding wrinkles to the Ohio State offense.
+3: The spread tonight as of late Saturday morning.
55.5: The combined point total Over/Under.
2-1: Notre Dame’s record at home in top-10 matchups since 2006, all three games coming in the last six seasons. The Irish were an underdog in the last two occasions, beating Clemson in double overtime in 2020, losing to Cincinnati in 2021. In 2018, they routed No. 7 Stanford, 38-17, as 4.5-point favorites.
2: Preseason predictions on the line today:
“Ohio State fans will not enjoy their trip to South Bend, in some part because senior defensive end Jordan Botelho shines in the big moment. After tallying two sacks in the Gator Bowl victory against South Carolina, he may be quiet the first few weeks of the 2023 season. His time will come when he matches that total against the Buckeyes.”
“Meanwhile Ohio State defensive end J.T. Tuilmoloau will not record a sack against the Irish, stymied by preseason All-American left tackle Joe Alt. When Alt squared up with Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy last season, he did not give up a pressure on 15 pass snaps.”