Are the Buckeyes ready for the Fighting Irish?

Sep. 18—COLUMBUS — Not surprisingly, the Ohio State Buckeyes are 3-0 on this young season.

The Buckeyes took care of Indiana 23-3 and Youngstown State 35-7 in the opening two games.

In Game 3, OSU hosted Western Kentucky on a sun-filled Saturday at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes eventually recorded a 63-10 win, despite a slow start.

The Buckeyes' combination of offense and defense clicked on just about all cylinders.

Were plays left on the field? Sure, that happens every game.

But OSU played with energy against the Hilltoppers.

"We needed to take the next step," Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. "We know we're about to jump into the middle of the season. We know we have to go on the road next week."

Now, OSU faces its biggest challenge to date, going to Notre Dame in a top-10 matchup this Saturday night. The Buckeyes are sixth, while the Fighting Irish check in at ninth.

Is OSU ready for this big test?

The first three games have been a mixed bag.

The Buckeyes opened against the Hoosiers and the inexperience in key areas, such as quarterback and the offensive line, showed.

OSU was better against the Penguins, but it still wasn't a clean win.

The Hilltoppers kept within distance of the Buckeyes in the first quarter, but OSU took control and outscored the visitors 28-0 in the second period to take a 42-10 halftime advantage.

The Buckeyes piled up a season-best 204 net yards rushing and 358 passing. The defense allowed 80 rushing and 204 passing.

More importantly, though, were two defensive scores.

OSU entered the game averaging 133 yards in the rushing game, which was ranked 87th in the country.

But the offensive line, which has been under heavy scrutiny in the early going, carved out big holes and the backs, especially TreVeyon Henderson, took advantage of the opportunities.

Henderson rushed for 88 yards and scored twice. Chip Trayanum added 56 yards, which included a 40 yarder for a TD.

"Any time you can really get the running game going, which I thought we did a tremendous job of today, it opens up the entire offense," Day said. "That's a credit to the O-line and the running backs."

OSU quarterback Kyle McCord went 19 of 23 for 318 yards and three TDs in passing.

He found Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 75-yard score.

The main blemish on McCord's day was fumbling on a sack.

The Fighting Irish are a formidable foe, especially with the addition of transfer quarterback Sam Hartman. Notre Dame breezed past Navy 42-3 and Tennessee State 56-3 in its first two games.

There was a fairly competitive 45-24 win at North Carolina State in Week 3 and Central Michigan provided a bit of a challenge before the Fighting Irish won 41-17 on Saturday.

The Buckeyes hosted the Fighting Irish in the 2022 opener.

It was a tightly-contested game before OSU pulled away in the fourth quarter to secure a 21-10 win.

In that contest, the Buckeyes used a solid ground game to gain 233 yards. In the fourth quarter, they went on a 14-play, 95-yard drive in seven minutes, culminating with a Miyan Williams 1-yard rushing TD to put the game away.

The win over WKU was the type of game needed with the Fighting Irish next.

A win over Notre Dame gives OSU a boost, especially on the national scope. A loss hurts, but it's not season ending. There's plenty of football left to be played and many scenarios that could happen.

Are the Buckeyes ready for Notre Dame?

We're about to find out.

Michael Greco can be reached at