The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

The Award Winning News Publication of Mercy College

The Impact

Catholics vs Draft Picks; Ohio State heads to Notre Dame


At last, we have arrived at week four. In college football, that’s code for the “put up or shut up” week for some of the best teams in the nation. 

Main eventing the loaded slate this week is a top ten matchup between two of the sports’ most successful programs, as the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.

In the words of Josh Pate, this is a helmet game folks. Any time these two helmets meet on a football field, it means a lot, to a lot of people. Two of the most prideful programs and fan bases colliding together just raises the stakes that much more, and both locker rooms know it.

Should I be nervous? I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I’d say…well…alright yeah. I’m a little nervous.

But why wouldn’t I be? There’s no way to beat around the bush here. The Irish are rolling. 

Sam Hartman is playing himself into Heisman contention, Audric Estime might be the top running back in America, and that beefy offensive line they got? Phew.

Irish offensive tackle Joe Alt is a projected first-round pick in this upcoming NFL Draft. JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer will have their work cut out for them on the edge, highlighting a key matchup to keep an eye out for. With that caliber of competition, you have to think those guys know how much NFL money is on the table Saturday night.

Hartman brings a talent at the quarterback position that frankly, Notre Dame hasn’t had in years. A major upgrade from Tyler Buchner a season prior, this guy is a field general. His thirteen touchdown passes this season lead the entire FBS, with an imposing 71.1% completion rate. It’s not often Ohio State doesn’t have the edge in the QB department, but you have to give the nod to the Wake Forest transfer here.

Estime, too, can be a handful for Jim Knowles’ defense if they let him. The country’s current rushing leader has 521 yards already on the ground this season. The Buckeyes’ ability to contain him will be telling in how this game concludes. The stud junior is bound to make his presence felt more than he did in last year’s meeting, in which he only ran nine times for just 21 yards.

I’ve also been particularly impressed with ND defensive back Ben Morrison so far this season. The Preseason Second Team All-America selectee will most likely shadow Marvin Harrison Jr. for the majority of this game. Another juicy storyline to follow here.

This isn’t the same Notre Dame team that came to Columbus last September. That’s evident. The experience and talent have only improved on both sides of the ball, even including Marcus Freeman who now has a full season of leading the Irish under his belt.

Oh, and they have a home-field advantage too? It’s a tall task, no doubt. Maybe this is the year Notre Dame finally beats Ohi-

Yeah, no.

Now that I got the glazing out of the way, I’m going to give it to you straight. The Buckeyes roll in this one.

Sure, the ND running game is elite. But their passing attack? It just doesn’t move me. Four games in for the Irish and they don’t have a single receiver over 300 yards. Yawn.

Hartman does a sound job of spreading the ball to all of his targets, I’ll give him his flowers there. But with the Buckeyes stacking the box anticipating the run, Hartman is going to face pressure plenty throughout the game. I think this wide receiver unit will struggle against the new and improved Ohio State secondary.

The Buckeyes have allowed the second-fewest points per game in the country after three weeks, averaging less than a touchdown given up in those contests. Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed led the FBS in passing yards in 2022, and even he was tormented by the OSU pass rush in week three. 

Ryan Day made a statement at the pregame Skull Session last week, claiming Ohio State was “about to take the next step.” After a disappointing first two weeks by Buckeye standards, the team answered with an all-around complete performance against WKU. 

The perfect tune-up before this anticipated matchup.

Kyle McCord had his first game as the official starting quarterback and flourished in it. McCord’s three touchdown passes were one shy of his amount of incompletions on the day. An impressive outing from number six. 

His maturity to comment in an interview earlier in the week that it’s important to “trust the players around him” is what gives me the most faith in his potential. Now that’s a dude who gets it.

If Ohio State is going to win this game, Kyle’s going to have to lean on that nuclear-supporting cast. Are you going to tell me Notre Dame has to account for Harrison, Egbuka, Stover, Henderson, and Trayanum?

I just don’t see how they keep up.

The importance of this game goes beyond 2023. Both programs have had their fair share of criticisms this past offseason, leaving both head coaches famished to come out on top.

Unfortunately for the Irish, they haven’t beaten the Buckeyes in a football game since the Roosevelt administration, and it isn’t likely that it will change this weekend.

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About the Contributor
TJ Heyder
TJ Heyder, Sports Editor
TJ Heyder is a fifth year Media Studies major at Mercy, with a passion for sports journalism. TJ has become a main beat writer covering Mercy athletics in his time writing for The Impact. He’s also a current member of the Men’s Lacrosse team for the Mavericks.  He writes a college sports based column titled "Around The Net,” with a sharp focus on The Ohio State Buckeyes.  He can be reached at [email protected]  

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