The day we've all been waiting for is finally here. Ohio State's 2022 season begins tonight against Notre Dame.
The Horseshoe will be loud, the atmosphere will be electric and the Buckeyes will be fast and violent. That's a great recipe for winning football games.
I predict Ohio State will win tonight's contest by more than two touchdowns. C.J. Stroud is a Heisman frontrunner in need of Heisman moments. What better stage for those moments than facing a top-five opponent in a stadium full of 100,000-plus fans wearing scarlet and gray? And that's not to mention the millions that will be watching at home as ABC broadcasts the game live with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit on the call.
Stroud isn't the only Buckeye poised to make a statement in tonight's contest. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is out to prove that he's the best wide receiver in the nation after a breakout sophomore season capped off with an otherworldly performance in the Rose Bowl. TreVeyon Henderson will also look to live up to his preseason All-American potential behind a retooled offensive line led by future NFL talents Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones.
Then, of course, the Ohio State defense. Jim Knowles might have a more oversized magnifying glass on top of him than Stroud, Smith-Njigba, Henderson or anyone else in the program. He placed top-five expectations on his unit for 2022, and it's time to see if the Silver Bullets are ready to rise to the occasion.
I love everything about this game. Two storied programs will battle in a historic venue on the season's first game. Everyone in Columbus and South Bend, Indiana, has been talking about it for the last nine months, and it's also been a part of the national conversation as two top-five teams fight to remain in the national championship conversation in Week 1.
But I digress. Let's have a good Saturday, shall we?
TODAY'S MENU. It's Week 1 of the 2022 college football season. That means there are good and bad games – primetime matchups and snooze fests. But, honestly, who cares? College football is back, and that's a reason for celebration.
I bolded some of the games I will keep my eye on before and during the Ohio State vs. Notre Dame tonight, and I might even make picks on these matchups later in the Skull Session! Who knows?
|CCSU at UConn||12:00pm||CW20/FOX61+|
|North Carolina at Appalachian State||12:00pm||ESPNU|
|Western Carolina at Charleston Sou.||12:00pm||ESPN+|
|South Dakota State at Iowa||12:00pm||FS1|
|Sam Houston at 6 Texas A&M||12:00pm||SECN|
|Georgetown at Marist||12:00pm||ESPN3|
|Dayton at Robert Morris||12:00pm||ESPN+|
|Buffalo at Maryland||12:00pm||BTN|
|Rutgers at Boston College||12:00pm||ACCN|
|Colorado State at 8 Michigan||12:00pm||ABC|
|Delaware at Navy||12:00pm||CBSSN|
|13 NC State at East Carolina||12:00pm||ESPN|
|Richmond at Virginia||12:30pm||RSN/ESPN3|
|Sacred Heart at Lafayette||12:30pm||ESPN+|
|St. Thomas (FL) at Butler||1:00pm||FloSports|
|Northern Iowa at Air Force||1:00pm||Altitude|
|Davidson at Jacksonville State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Stonehill at Bloomsburg||2:00pm||PSAC Sports DN|
|Southeast Missouri at Iowa State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Duquesne at Youngstown State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Lincoln (PA) at Delaware State||2:00pm||ESPN+|
|Bowling Green at UCLA||2:30pm||P12N|
|Northwestern State at Montana||3:00pm||ESPN+|
|24 Houston at UTSA||3:30pm||CBSSN|
|UTEP at 9 Oklahoma||3:30pm||FOX|
|Tulsa at Wyoming||3:30pm||FS1|
|11 Oregon vs. 3 Georgia (in Atlanta, GA)||3:30pm||ABC|
|North Dakota at Nebraska||3:30pm||BTN|
|Norfolk State at Marshall||3:30pm||ESPN3|
|23 Cincinnati at 19 Arkansas||3:30pm||ESPN|
|Arizona at San Diego State||3:30pm||CBS|
|Bethune-Cookman at 16 Miami (FL)||3:30pm||ACCN|
|Drake at North Dakota State||3:30pm||ABC ND/ESPN+|
|25 BYU at USF||4:00pm||ESPNU|
|Tennessee State at Eastern Washington||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Houston Baptist at Northern Colorado||4:00pm||ESPN+|
|Troy at 21 Ole Miss||4:00pm||SECN|
|UC Davis at California||4:00pm||P12N Bay Area|
|Nicholls at South Alabama||5:00pm||ESPN3|
|Texas State at Nevada||5:30pm||NSN|
|Morgan State at Georgia Southern||6:00pm||ESPN3|
|Rice at 14 USC||6:00pm||P12N|
|Concordia at Stetson||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Towson at Bucknell||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Florida Atlantic at Ohio||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Wofford at Chattanooga||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Howard at Hampton||6:00pm||FloSports|
|Middle Tennessee at James Madison||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Miles College at Alabama State||6:00pm||ESPN+|
|Florida Memorial at Southern||7:00pm||JSN|
|Elon at Vanderbilt||7:00pm||SECN+/ESPN+|
|7 Utah at Florida||7:00pm||ESPN|
|UMass at Tulane||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Miami (Ohio) at 20 Kentucky||7:00pm||SECN+/ESPN+|
|Liberty at Southern Miss||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Army at Coastal Carolina||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Lane College at UAPB||7:00pm||UAPB SN|
|UAlbany at 10 Baylor||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Texas Southern at Prairie View A&M||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Mercer at Auburn||7:00pm||SECN+/ESPN+|
|Indiana Wesleyan at Valparaiso||7:00pm||ESPN3|
|Illinois State at 18 Wisconsin||7:00pm||FS1|
|Stephen F. Austin at Alcorn State||7:00pm||TV TBA|
|Southern Illinois at UIW||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Presbyterian at Austin Peay||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Southeastern La. at Louisiana||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|South Dakota at Kansas State||7:00pm||ESPN+|
|Grambling State at Arkansas State||7:00pm||ESPN3|
|Utah State at 1 Alabama||7:30pm||SECN|
|SMU at North Texas||7:30pm||CBSSN|
|5 Notre Dame at 2 Ohio State||7:30pm||ABC|
|Georgia State at South Carolina||7:30pm||SECN+/ESPN+|
|North Carolina A&T vs. NC Central (in Charlotte, NC)||7:30pm||ESPN3|
|Memphis at Mississippi State||7:30pm||ESPNU|
|ULM at Texas||8:00pm||LHN|
|Colgate at Stanford||8:00pm||P12N Bay Area|
|McNeese at Montana State||8:00pm||ESPN+|
|Maine at New Mexico||8:00pm||MWN|
|Louisville at Syracuse||8:00pm||ACCN|
|Murray State at Texas Tech||8:00pm||ESPN+|
|La Verne at San Diego||9:00pm||WCCSports.com|
|Utah Tech at Sacramento State||9:00pm||CW31/ESPN+|
|Idaho at Washington State||9:30pm||P12N|
|Boise State at Oregon State||10:30pm||ESPN|
|Kent State at Washington||10:30pm||FS1|
|WKU at Hawaii||11:59pm||Spectrum PPV|
BACK TO THE BUCKEYES. One more thing on Ohio State and Notre Dame. Bill Bender of Sporting News spoke to former Buckeye running back Eddie George before this matchup and learned the Heisman Trophy winner's perspective on his incredible performance against the Irish the last time the two programs met at Ohio Stadium.
George remembers each of the carries he received against Notre Dame and reminds his friends who attended the Indiana school – like Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis –that he owned the Golden Domers for all four quarters on Sept. 30, 1995.
Eddie George can't control himself.
Every once in a while, the Ohio State legend will send the picture to his friend and Notre Dame alum Jerome Bettis as a not-so-gentle-reminder of the past.
This is one of those weeks. You've seen the picture.
It's George – in a scarlet "27" jersey – angling toward the open field at Ohio Stadium with a white towel flapping to the side – an almost Heisman pose that foreshadowed what was to come later in that 1995 season. The background is every bit as important here. Count the Notre Dame defenders in white jerseys trailing behind George. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven …
Yep, seven Irish defenders made the wide-angle shot Columbus Dispatch photographer Fred Squillante captured on Sept. 30, 1995. George's 61-yard run was the proverbial dagger in the Buckeyes' 45-26 victory against Notre Dame that day. It's just waiting for Bettis' response.
"He sends me an emoji back – with one finger," George told Sporting News.
George later explained it is a playful gesture from Bettis, who couldn't do anything to stop him on that day as Notre Dame's running back. Still, Bettis understands how dominant George was against his team and how embarrassing it was to watch the Ohio State tailback run for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
May Ohio State have more moments tonight that will live on like this one. The kinds of plays that will show up in a highlight reel anytime the Buckeyes and Irish play each other in the future (say, next year?).
MY PICKS. I decided I would share some of my totally solid insider knowledge on college football with you. Yes, I have studied all the tapes for these teams and all of my predictions will be correct.
- No. 23 Cincinnati (+6.5) at No. 19 Arkansas. Luke Fickell's squad lost a lot of talent from last season's College Football Playoff team, including Sauce Gardner, Coby Bryant and Desmond Ridder. That matters. Cincinnati likely won't be in the running for a CFP spot, but I still expect the Bearcats to be competitive in 2022. The Bearcats might not win outright, but I like them to cover against an unproven SEC opponent.
- No. 7 Utah (-2) at Florida. Ohio State fans are familiar with Utah after a thrilling Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. Much of the roster returns for head coach Kyle Whittingham. The Utes will be led by quarterback Cameron Rising and running back Tavion Thomas. At the same time, defensive backs Clark Phillips and Cole Bishop will anchor the defense. Utah is a CFP team in my mind, so give me the Utes to cover.
- Louisiana-Monroe at Texas (-38). This is a huge spread to cover for the Longhorns, and it would be admittedly funny to watch the Longhorns struggle against the Warkhawks or even suffer an upset, but I don't think that's in store for Texas. Quinn Ewers will be QB1 for head coach Steve Sarkisian, and I'm ready to see him prove that perfect recruiting ranking he received as a junior in high school. I'll take the man with the mullet and Texas to cover the large spread.
THE IRISH DOSSIER. We had a full week of coverage at Eleven Warriors to preview Ohio State's historic matchup with Notre Dame. Actually, it was more like months, but I won't make you read or listen to all that stuff. Here is everything you need to know about the Irish:
- Five Things to Know About Notre Dame
- Freeman Excited to Face "Great Team"
- Buckeye Roundtable on 97.1 The Fan
- Day, Knowles Preview Notre Dame
- Dubcast: Previewing Notre Dame
- Buckeyes "Have a Lot to Prove"
- Ohio State Needs Run Game vs. ND
- The Situational: Paradox Lost
- Notre Dame Game Poster
- Mic Check: Notre Dame
- Ohio State Players Preview Notre Dame
- Three Key Matchups vs. Notre Dame
- Across the Field: Notre Dame
- The Bro Bowl: A Matchup With Style(s)
- Film Study: Knowles' Gameplan for Irish
- Ryan Day Radio Show
- Eleven Warriors Roundtable
- Dan Hope's Notre Dame Preview
SONG OF THE DAY. “Hells Bells” by AC/DC.
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