If the Notre Dame football team is to shock the world and beat Ohio State on Saturday night, these Buckeyes must be stopped.
Going into the 2022 college football season, the Notre Dame football team was ranked No. 5 in the country by the Associated Press. That is some good praise from that media outlet, and coming in at No. 2 was the Ohio State Buckeyes, who Notre Dame takes on Saturday night.
A matchup between two top-5 teams is just what the doctor ordered for college football fans, who have been without the sport for months. However, for the Notre Dame football team, it is a very tough test right out of the gate, especially considering they have a first-year head coach, quarterback, and injuries on both sides of the ball.
Still, the Irish have a legitimate chance to win on Saturday night, and to do so, these members of the Ohio State Buckeyes must be stopped.
Notre Dame football at Ohio State: Buckeyes who must be stopped
CJ Stroud, Quarterback
For any football team, strong play at the quarterback spot is paramount, and the same can be said about the Ohio State football team. Luckily for the Buckeyes, they have one of the best in the business in CJ Stroud, a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and a dynamic signal-caller under center.
Stroud may have lost two first-round wideouts to the 2022 NFL Draft, but returns his No. 1 target in the passing game, and can hurt a team in so many ways. If the Irish hope to beat the Buckeyes on Saturday night, they have to get Stroud off his mark, so expect plenty of plays to get Isaiah Foskey free in the Ohio State backfield.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver
The Ohio State Buckeyes did lose Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the 2022 NFL Draft, as they were both picked in the first round, but they return the best wideout in the country in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Despite Wilson and Olave being first-round talents, it was Smith-Njigba who led the way for the Buckeyes in receptions and receiving yards, and you can expect the same in 2022.
The truth is, this kid is going to be an elite player at the next level, and possibly be a top-5 pick in next year’s draft. Cam Hart is likely to get the assignment against him, and that is going to be a tough task, but if Hart can at least minimize the damage, it will go a long way in the Irish winning on Saturday night.
Zach Harrison, Defensive End
Lastly, we turn to the defensive side of the ball, where the Irish must find a way to stop Ohio State edge rusher, Zach Harrison. Notre Dame football is rolling with a first-time starter in 2022, as Tyler Buchner beat out Drew Pyne to earn the starting quarterback job as a true freshman, and the competition won’t get much tougher than what he is going to face in start No. 1.
This Saturday Notre Dame goes up against what may be the greatest offense since 2019 LSU. How can they contain Ohio State's lightning in a bottle?
Harrison is 6-foot-6, weighs nearly 270 pounds, and can be a real menace coming off the edge. He has nearly 20 tackles for a loss in his career, and if the Irish cannot find a way to contain him on Saturday night, Buchner could be under duress every time he drops back to pass.