Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss the highly anticipated Top 5 matchup between 5 Notre Dame and 2 Ohio State, and debate if there is more pressure on Ryan Day or Marcus Freeman in this game.
PAT FORDE: Notre Dame, Ohio State, and gosh, I could go two directions on this. But the one I'm going to say I'm most curious about this game is, I want to see Ohio State's defense, because I think Ohio State has a national championship offense. The question is, is there $1.9 million acquisition at defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State, a guy that's a difference maker in terms of making the defense championship caliber. Are they good enough to have a defense that can go with that offense and challenge I think Alabama for the National championship ultimately?
DAN WETZEL: I wrote a column about Ryan Day this week. How much pressure is on him with this team? They clearly have the team that can either win it or at least play with Bama in the title game. They are 17 and a half point favorites over the number five team in the country. Now maybe Notre Dame doesn't deserve to be there, maybe they do, but that's how good they are.
But like, I just sense this slight bit of worry in Ohio State fan, where it's like we think this is going great. We think we have our guy. But this is his team now, his program, his defensive coordinator. Can he do it? Like, do you get that sense? Do you think there's that there?
PAT FORDE: I get that sense enough I wrote a similar column this week. So there you go. Yeah, I think that when Ryan Day, I mean, it caught my attention at Big Ten media days when Ryan Day said 11 and 2 is a good season in a lot of places, it's not here. I mean, it's like, whoa. OK, the expectation is that high.
What Jim Harbaugh said was a real shot to the ribs last year about being born on third base. But there's some factual backing to that. He inherited an unbelievable situation, one of the two or three best positions to be in for a rookie head coach in the country. And he's done very, very well. But he hasn't won a championship. I do sense that there is that concern, do we have a really good coach, but not a championship coach.
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah, I went to a couple of Ohio State games last season. And I remember getting the sense that there was just no confidence from Buckeyes fans in, and I think it's because defensively. So obviously, their offseason acquisition of Knowles is huge, because I agree with Pat and you, Dan, about offensively. I mean, they might be better offensively than Alabama. I hate saying that out loud, but they've just got incredible talent over there. But do they have the talent to face some of these SEC defenses? I think that's a big question.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, I just think with Ryan Day, it's just, it's very hard when your standard is win them all. And when you're going in, and let's say this game is, let's say Notre Dame's leading at half, like there's going to be like, oh no, what's going on. I mean, it's ridiculous. Notre Dame's defense is very, very good.
PAT FORDE: Extremely good.
DAN WETZEL: So I'll switch to the other sideline there, Marcus Freeman. Expectation's much lower. I don't know if anyone's going to care if they lose. Although Notre Dame fans will always care if they lose. But this is a big game for Marcus Freeman. I look at this season as, he has to show that as a first time coach, he can coach. So I'm very interested to see what this Notre Dame team can be, how good is Tyler Buckner at quarterback. I don't know if they gotta win, but you sure don't want to get blown out right off the bat. So that would be my choice of what I'm most looking forward to seeing.
ROSS DELLENGER: Usually the pressure is on the big favorite. Yeah, I don't know that the pressure is not on Marcus Freeman in this game. I agree, like it just, I mean, how would you like to be your first year head coach, you're ranked number 5 and your first true regular season game is at the number two team in the nation? Yeah, that's, there's serious pressure there, especially after they lost the Bowl game in the way they did.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I think it's fine. We don't want to put them on the hot seat before he's even coached.
DAN WETZEL: No, no. But there's a huge opportunity for Marcus Freeman, and I don't know that he has to win to really make a great impact.
PAT FORDE: Right.
DAN WETZEL: That's a little bit nicer spot to be in, where Ryan Day, where you probably need to win handily.