Notre Dame offense continues to roll ahead Ohio State showdown

Published 9:38 am Sunday, September 17, 2023

NOTRE DAME — No.9 Notre Dame scores 40 points for the fourth game in a row to set up a battle of the unbeatens with Ohio State next Saturday night.

Racking up 578 yards of total offense and averaging 8.9 yards per play, Notre Dame (4-0) gave Central Michigan (1-2) all they could handle.

The Fighting Irish defense also forced six three-and-outs while holding Chippewas back-up quarterback Jase Bauer to 137 yards passing and sacking him twice.

“I’m still not sure if we have seen the full potential of this team,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Marcus Freeman. “We continue to teel our guys to stay and win in the moment, do not worry about what comes next.”

Audric Estime gained 100 yards on the ground for the third straight game and finished with 176 yards on 20 rushes. He also scored the touchdown that gave the Fighting Irish the lead for good late in the first quarter.

A linebacker himself in college, Freeman knows what it’s like to tackle a dominant runner like Estime.

“He [Estime] is tough to tackle,” Freeman said. “Our running game allows our passing game to open up and set up deep balls for touchdowns.”

And that’s exactly what happened. The first three plays from scrimmage for the Irish were to Estime before Sam Hartman found Tobias Merriweather on a 75-yard deep route.

Hartman would connect on a 76-yard strike to Chris Tyree in the second quarter and Holden Staes hauled in a 4-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.  Hartman went 16-for-26 with 330 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Heisman hopeful has thrown for 1,061 yards with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions overall.

Defensively, Notre Dame were without senior captain JD Bertrand (concussion protocol) and senior safety DJ Brown (leg) for the game. Their missed leadership was felt slightly as penalties allowed three first downs for the Chippewas.

Without starting quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr., the Chippewas offense struggled to throw the ball. He missed the contest due to an illness and did not make the trip.

Central Michigan will travel to South Alabama to take on the Jaguars in their final non-conference game of the season on Saturday afternoon.

Notre Dame will wear their traditional green uniforms when they host Ohio State Saturday night.