Whether he meant it maliciously or not, Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman is stirring the pot ahead of the Irish’s Week 1 clash with Ohio State this fall.

In an interview with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd earlier this week, Freeman pointed out the difference between being a student-athlete at Notre Dame vs. Ohio State or Cincinnati — two of his previous stops in college athletics.

“I’m not saying from top to bottom, but the majority of our kids, they — I want to say this the right way — are pushed to learn and their study habits are formulated every day,” Freeman told Dodd. “You can’t cheat academics at Notre Dame.

“If you don’t go to class [at places like Ohio State and Cincinnati], OK, take some online classes, show up for your appointments … At Notre Dame, you’re forced every day to go to class.”

Ohio State appeared to respond to Freeman’s comments with a graphic celebrating its student-athletes’ success in the classroom:

Of course, it’s worth noting that Freeman has experience as a student-athlete at Ohio State. He spent 5 seasons in Columbus as a linebacker under Jim Tressel before ultimately becoming a 5th round NFL draft pick.

The timing of his comments is interesting, to say the least. Notre Dame is less than 3 months away from traveling to Ohio State for the first time since 1995. The Buckeyes — who return quarterback CJ Stroud and a host of other key starters — are heavily favored.

Notre Dame and Ohio State kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 3.