SOUTH BEND, Ind. — While they’re both located in the midwest, the number of match-ups between two of the nation’s preeminent college football programs have been scarce.
It’s even more rare that Ohio State has made the 258-mile trip to the northwest to face Notre Dame in South Bend.
On Saturday, the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish will host the sixth-ranked Buckeyes at Notre Dame Stadium at 6:30 p.m. central time, doing so for just the third time in program history.
The last time that they hosted the Big Ten power was September 28, 1996, when Ohio State beat Notre Dame 29-16 in what would be longtime coach Lou Holtz’s last season in South Bend. Sixty years earlier, the Irish knocked off the Buckeyes 7-2 at Notre Dame Stadium on October 31, 1936.
Meetings between the schools overall are rare, with just seven before Saturday, with the Buckeyes sporting a 5-2 record. That included a 21-10 win on Columbus last season, which was just the third time the schools played at Ohio Stadium, with the last coming in 1995 when the Buckeyes won 45-26.
Perhaps their most famous match-up was their first when Notre Dame defeated Ohio State 18-13 on November 2, 1935, in what was dubbed as the “Game of the Century.
Both schools also played in the 2006 & 2016 Fiesta Bowls, with the Buckeyes winning both of those contests.
In 2023, both programs come into the game looking for their first signature victory of the season while boosting their own chances to compete for a national championship.
The Irish have scored four decisive victories to open the season against Navy, Tennessee State, NC State, and Central Michigan, using a big second half to pull away from the Chippewas last week in a 41-17 victory.
Ohio State played a tight game with Indiana in their season opener on the road before pulling away for a 20-point win and scored victories over Youngstown State (35-7) and Western Kentucky (63-10) in the last two weeks.
As part of the hype of the game, Notre Dame will be sporting their green jerseys for the night game, which are traditionally brought out for major games.
ESPN College Gameday will be holding its traveling show on campus the day of the match-up with Ohio State. This comes 30 years after having their first remote show at Notre Dame ahead of the 1993 No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up with Florida State.
It’s the biggest moment in the still very young tenure of head coach Marcus Freeman, who’ll look to add another signature win to a program looking to end a 35-year championship drought.
“We want to see a lot of green in here. That’s the cool thing about Saturday. We have green jerseys. I don’t know if they’re calling it a green out, but we want to see a lot of green,” said Freeman. ” Our players notice it and appreciate that, especially pregame. We want to make sure there’s as many Notre Dame fans as we can. I think they’re doing some cool things for the fan experience. I encourage our fans – make sure that you guys are here and let’s get as much green in this stadium as we can.”
It’s certainly a rare enough moment to warrant a big atmosphere for the meeting of two of college football’s most storied programs.