Ohio State vs Notre Dame Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Hartman Shines in Top-10 Clash

Ohio State may be favored based on some flawed math, and our college football picks think there's value in a Notre Dame side that will bring experience and poise to a raucous home setting.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
Sep 23, 2023 • 16:58 ET • 4 min read
Sam Hartman Notre Dame NCAAF
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

In a weekend filled with massive matchups, only one can claim to be a Top-10 tilt. In the second half of a home-and-home series, the Ohio State Buckeyes head to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game that should have direct College Football Playoff implications. The winner will claim the biggest victory of the season thus far, on par with Texas’s win at Alabama a couple of weeks ago.

This college football odds spread has tightened a bit during the week, underscoring how competitive of a game this should be. How should you approach betting it?

Here are our free college football picks and predictions for Ohio State vs. Notre Dame on Saturday, September 23.

Ohio State vs Notre Dame best odds

Ohio State vs Notre Dame and predictions

Math has its failings. Power rankings in college football make sense and are generally more predictive than any other metric, but sometimes the key matchup advantages should be factored in more heavily.

For the first time since Trevor Lawrence and Clemson beat Ohio State in the 2020 College Football Playoff, a Buckeyes’ opponent can confidently say it has the better quarterback. Irish veteran Sam Hartman has played more games than any other active quarterback in college football, quickly rising in the Top 10 of NCAA career record holders for both passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Yes, that is all due to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver and Hartman’s standing in the record books could understandably reflect that. But this is still who he will be on the field on Saturday. A polished, accurate, strong-armed, experienced quarterback.

He has led 37 Notre Dame drives this season, resulting in 22 touchdowns and six field-goal attempts (three successful). The Irish rank No. 10 in the country in converting red-zone possessions into touchdowns, reaching the end zone 13 times on 15 trips inside the 20-yard line. Hartman is potent and efficient.

Meanwhile, Ohio State junior Kyle McCord has yet to be convincing this season, most concerningly averaging just 7.2 yards per attempt in the season opener at Indiana, when the Buckeyes managed all of 23 points. McCord has looked better since then, but those six touchdowns and 10.9 yards per attempt came against FCS-level Youngstown State and defensively dreadful Western Kentucky. Notre Dame will mark a significant uptick in defensive pressure, particularly with a front-seven rotation of 12 players that features eight seniors or fifth-year veterans, two juniors, and two athletic sophomores with the sole task of finding the quarterback.

McCord has never started in a hostile road environment — little disrespect meant to Indiana so much as acknowledging an obvious truth.

Maybe Ohio State fans invade South Bend, as Georgia fans did in 2017 and Cincinnati fans did in 2021, but the majority of the crowd will still be wearing green and McCord will need to coordinate his cadence with first-year starters at both tackle positions as well as center.

And, again, that is all going against a veteran, experienced defense willing to take risks because its own quarterback can be trusted to produce some points.

The Buckeyes are favored this weekend because of power ratings, not because of the reality awaiting them in South Bend. Based on this season’s results, based on the quarterback disparity, based on how green McCord is as he enters a stadium filled with an entirely different green, the Irish should be favored.

Could you play it safe and take Notre Dame +3? Absolutely. But this handicap is not headed in that direction, just like it is not headed toward suggesting the Under 55.5, though that will be discussed in a moment here. The -110 odds of either of those bets limit the value more than usual.

As long as FanDuel is going to offer a 30% profit boost on any Ohio State at Notre Dame bet, then the best way to maximize that value is to lean into the value of thinking the Irish should be favored.

The Notre Dame moneyline was always the best bet here, as evidenced by making it the capstone of this week’s Triple Option, Week 4 college football picks. But now, it has an added value.

My best bet: Notre Dame moneyline (+130 at FanDuel+169 with 30% profit boost)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

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Ohio State vs Notre Dame same-game parlay

Notre Dame ML
Under 55.5 
Audric Estimé anytime touchdown

Notre Dame’s defense may be about to make a statement. Preseason All-American cornerback Benjamin Morrison will provide a stiffer challenge for Ohio State star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. than anyone else will this season, and fifth-year cornerback Cam Hart is plenty physical enough to throw off Emeka Egubka’s timing.

If McCord struggles early, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day likely will turn to running back TreVeyon Henderson for yeoman’s work.

Irish head coach Marcus Freeman already will be leaning on junior running back Audric Estimé, No. 2 in the country in yards per game at 130.3 while averaging 8.27 yards per carry. And that has been while Freeman tried to lessen the workload on Estimé in preparation for a weekend like this.

Betting on Estimé to score a touchdown coincides with betting on the Under. Both these offenses will rely on their rushing attacks this weekend. The two-star backs will set the tone and, possibly, open up the opposing defenses for their respective quarterbacks.

But Henderson will share carries more than Estimé will this weekend, making Estimé the running back to back in this Under-driven same-game parlay.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Ohio State vs Notre Dame spread and Over/Under analysis

This spread spent the summer near 10 points. A week into the season, lookahead lines were down to about a touchdown. Two weeks ago, Ohio State was favored by only a field goal, and this number reached the true market on Sunday at -3.5.

Reading the tea leaves of when the number fluctuated between -3.5 and -3, some sharps needed to be reassured Hartman’s ankle and knee were good to go after a Central Michigan defender rolled up on him in last week’s second half. That was more a surface-level worry than anything, Hartman continuing to play against the Chippewas in that 41-17 win and having a full week of graduate-student life to rehab any lingering concern. By Thursday evening, the market coalesced around an even field goal.

The total opened Sunday at 51.5, pushed up to 54 that afternoon and 55.5 by midday Tuesday, where it has remained. Betting an Over here is putting a great deal of faith in either McCord to show up ready for this stage or Freeman to turn Hartman loose in all facets, rather than play conservatively as former defensive coordinators tend to in the biggest moments.

Ohio State vs Notre Dame betting trend to know

Freeman went 3-1 against the spread as an underdog in his first year of being a head coach last season, including covering a 17-point spread at Ohio State in the opener and winning as a 3-point and as a 4-point underdog against North Carolina and Clemson, respectively. Find more college football betting trends for Ohio State vs. Notre Dame.

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Ohio State vs Notre Dame game info

Location: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

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