Big Ten Country

Ohio State vs. Notre Dame: Players to watch

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A matchup of top-ten teams will take center stage on Saturday night, with Ohio State taking on Notre Dame in South Bend.

The Buckeyes won last year’s matchup, and in fact have won their last five meetings against the Fighting Irish. The last victory for Notre Dame in the all-time series between the schools came all the way back in 1936.

Which players will be key for Notre Dame as they try to end that losing streak? Who for the Buckeyes could help continue the run? Here are six players you’ll need to keep an eye on Saturday night.

Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

While Marvin Harrison Jr. rightfully gets tons of headlines for the Buckeyes, Egbuka is no slouch himself, with 12 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns in three games so far this season.

In last season’s matchup between the schools, Egbuka had a coming out party of sorts, with nine catches for 90 yards and a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ victory.

Audric Estime, Notre Dame

Estime only had 21 rushing yards in last season’s loss to Ohio State, but he has been on an absolute tear so far this season, with 521 yards and five touchdowns in four games for the Fighting Irish so far this season.

While Notre Dame’s passing game has stolen plenty of headlines this season thanks to the strong play of Sam Hartman, Estime cannot be overlooked, especially after a week that saw him rack up 176 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan.

Jack Sawyer, Ohio State

The Buckeyes’ pass rush is going to be in for a tough challenge against Joe Alt and company, but Sawyer could be a key component if Ohio State’s defense is going to get that pressure home.

In their Week 3 win over Western Kentucky, Sawyer racked up seven pressures and two quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Sawyer did not play in last year’s game between the schools, but his stat line for the season isn’t an accurate reflection of just what a dominant force he can be.  

Holden Staes, Notre Dame

The Irish would love nothing more than to put pressure on Ohio State’s linebackers, and Staes could be a key component in that part of the game. He has only six catches in four games, but four of those have gone for touchdowns, and he has 123 yards in the receiving game.

Chip Trayanum, Ohio State

Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson both get plenty of publicity for the Buckeyes, but Trayanum has been a quiet force in limited action, including 56 yards and a touchdown against Western Kentucky last week.

He does only have one catch on the season, but if the Buckeyes look to establish the run, especially considering how good Notre Dame has been against the pass, then Trayanum could be a key asset.

Xavier Watts, Notre Dame

Watts has been a strong defensive force for the Irish so far this season, with an interception, three passes defended and a total of 14 tackles on the campaign.

He was in fine form against Central Michigan a week ago, with five total tackles in the 41-17 victory for the Irish. With their pass defense having been one of the best in America through the first four weeks, Watts figures to be a key player against a versatile and deep receiver group.

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