For the seventh time ever, college football powerhouses Ohio State and Notre Dame will face off, as the two are set for a non-conference matchup on Saturday.

The Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish each enter the contest with plenty of preseason hype of their own. While Ohio State lost five total talents on offense to the 2022 NFL Draft, it is returning multiple standout starters on this side of the ball, including quarterback C.J. Stroud. On the other hand, there is much anticipation for the first full campaign of the Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame, as he will rely on sophomore passer Tyler Buchner to lead the offense.

Both programs need a win in this must-watch matchup from the second weekend of the college football season. For the Buckeyes, they should pull off these three feats in its home clash with Notre Dame.

3. Tanner McCalister makes a grand first impression with two takeaways

The main storyline heading into Ohio State’s upcoming season has centered on just whether first-year Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will end up rejuvenating the team’s pass defense. Ohio State found itself in a few shootouts over the 2021 campaign, as while Stroud took care of business on the offensive side of the ball, the defense had a difficult time limiting the production from opponents through the air; it ranked at 12th in the Big Ten in passing yards allowed per game with a 246.9 average.

Knowles is set to call upon multiple players to lead the group, including nickelback Tanner McCalister. Following a four-season run at Oklahoma State, McCalister decided to follow Knowles, as he transferred to Ohio State earlier this year.

McCalister is slated to essentially be the quarterback of Knowles’ five defensive back system at Ohio State. He understands the ins and outs of Knowles’ system after being a focal point of it while at Oklahoma State.

As Ohio State head coach Ryan Day touched on in March, McCalister is “almost like a coach” when on the field.

“I think first off, what Tanner’s done is, he understands the defense,” Day said. “He’s almost like a coach out there. Kind of like one of those old player coaches on the field. And he’s been able to help guys with that. His experience really shows up on the field because he can recognize what teams are trying to attack him and he feels comfortable in this style of defense. Obviously, he has years of experience in it.”

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McCalister recorded a mere one interception and recovered zero fumbles over 89 total games played with the Cowboys. The script for him should flip in his very first in-game action with the Big Ten powerhouse, as he has what it takes to haul in a pick and recover a crucial fumble in the contest. From his keen speed to his stout tackling ability, Notre Dame wideouts will see plenty of the fifth-year defensive back this week.

2. Marvin Harrison Jr. provides an encore Rose Bowl Game performance

The last time that Stroud shared the field with Marvin Harrison Jr. for a game, he watched as the former four-star recruit put together quite the breakout performance. Harrison hauled in three receiving touchdowns in Ohio State’s 2022 Rose Bowl Game win over Utah, which included two such receptions in the red zone.

In the Buckeyes’ upcoming showdown with Notre Dame, Harrison can showcase that his grand showing against Utah was not a one-hit-wonder one. As the Notre Dame pass defense is expected to shift much of its focus to Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming, Harrison’s speed in the open field should then add another dimension to the Stroud-led Buckeyes offense.

Whether it will be against Clarence Lewis or Cam Hart, Harrison should have a field day on Saturday. He sure can begin to emerge as a dark horse candidate for the 2022 Heisman Trophy award with a three receiving touchdowns outing against Notre Dame.

1. Ohio State scores 35 points en route to a convincing victory over Notre Dame

In the College Football Playoff era, first impressions are always pivotal for any team that is vying to pull off a national title-winning run. For instance, the CFP selection committee opted to put Oregon at No. 4 over No. 5 Ohio State in its debut rankings for last year, mostly due to the Ducks’ early season road victory over the Buckeyes.

This time around, Ohio State should leave no doubt for the CFP selection committee, as it sure can clinch a dominant win over the Fighting Irish that then proves that it needs to be up there with Alabama and Georgia when discussing early national title contenders.

A win is needed for Ohio State on Saturday, especially as it has several key games looming in the opening half of its season.