Notre Dame football is looking to start the Marcus Freeman era off strong, and they have a good shot at doing so.
Notre Dame football is one of the elite programs in the country. While they may not have won a National Championship in a while, they are one of the most-watched teams in the entire country. This year, there is plenty of reason to watch the Fighting Irish take the gridiron this fall.
Brian Kelly is no longer the head coach of Notre Dame, as he left late in the 2021 season to become the new sideline boss for the LSU Tigers. Notre Dame did not have to look far for his replacement, as they opted to promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who was viewed as one of the next potential great head coaches in college.
With one game as head coach under his belt, Freeman now begins his first full season leading the football program. Will it lead to success?
Without further ado, here are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the No. 8 ranked team in the FanSided Top 50 preseason rankings.
Notre Dame football 2021 season in review
Well, the Fighting Irish started off 2021 under stressful circumstances, defeating Florida State 41-38 in overtime in the season-opener, and narrowly defeating Toledo 32-29 in the following contest. They were able to pick up a huge blowout win over the ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Yet, they suffered their first loss of the campaign five games in, losing 24-13 to the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Following their loss, the Fighting Irish won out for the remainder of the season, which included victories over teams like Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Stanford.
Notre Dame clinched a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, in what would become Freeman’s first game as head coach. In that game, Notre Dame held a 28-7 lead over Oklahoma State, but ultimately lost 37-35.
Previewing Notre Dame Fighting Irish offense for 2022 season
- Returning Starters: QB Tyler Buchner, RB Chris Tyree, FB Sherwood Davis, TE Michael Mayer, WR Lorenzo Styles, WR Jayden Thomas, WR Avery Davis, OL Joe Alt, IOL Jarrett Patterson, IOL Zeke Correll, IOL Josh Lugg, OL Blake Fisher
- Newcomers: IOL Billy Schrauth (Freshman), RB Jadarian Price (Freshman), QB Steve Angeli (Freshman)
- Impact Player: TE Michael Mayer
The starting offense will look similar to what it was last year, including the return of offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.
Tyler Buchner has already been named the team’s starting quarterback for their season-opener against Ohio State on Sept. 3. Buchner appeared in 10 games last season as a freshman, where he threw for 298 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions on a 60.0 completion percentage. Buchner is a dual-threat option, as he ran for 336 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries.
Their passing attack will be highlighted by tight end Michael Mayer, who is already dubbed the top tight end prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Last season, he recorded 71 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. Leading receiver in 2021, Kevin Austin Jr., is currently on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yet, they have some pass-catchers returning, like Avery Davis and Lorenzo Styles.
Their offensive line remains intact. Freshman Billy Schrauth was one of their top recruits in the 2022 class.
Previewing Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense for 2022 season
- Returning Starters: DE Rylie Mills, DT Jacob Lacey, DT Jayson Ademilola, DE Isaiah Foskey, LB Marist Liufau, LB JD Bertrand, LB Jack Kiser, CB Cam Hart, S Ramon Henderson, CB Clarence Lewis, CB TaRiq Bracy
- Newcomers: FS Brandon Joseph (Transfer from Northwestern), LB Jaylen Sneed (Freshman), DT Chris Smith (Graduate Transfer from Havard)
- Impact Player: DE Isaiah Foskey
Entering his first season as head coach, Freeman managed to bring back the majority of his defense. The big name is, obviously, edge rusher Isaiah Foskey, who led the team with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2021. Other notable names include Jayson Ademilola, JD Bertrand, and Clarence Lewis.
There is one new name to the starting line and that is Brandon Joseph, who transferred over from Northwestern. Just two years ago, Joseph recorded six interceptions in the eight-game 2020 season.
One other name to keep an eye on is freshman linebacker Jaylen Sneed, who was rated a five-star recruit and 34th in the entire nation by 247Sports. Oh, and the college recruiting website ranked him as the third-best linebacker in the 2022 class and the second-best in the state of South Carolina.
There will be a new name serving as defensive coordinator, and that is Al Golden, who spent the last two years coaching the linebackers for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Notre Dame football player awards watch for 2022 season
Michael Mayer, Vince Lombardi/Walter Camp/Mackey/Biletnikoff/ Maxwell
It should not come as a shock that Mayer is in the running for these five awards. After a phenomenal first two years with Notre Dame, Mayer put the college football world on notice. Not just that, but NFL teams that are in need of a star tight end.
Isaiah Foskey, Vince Lombardi/Bednarik/Nagurski
Given the season that Foskey had last year, where he was no stranger to getting to the quarterback and knocking the football out of the carrier’s hands, it’s no shock that he is in consideration for the Lombardi, Bednarik, and Nagurski awards in 2022.
Brandon Joseph, Bednarik/Nagurski/Thorpe/Lott IMPACT
Joseph was one of the top transfers the Fighting Irish have received from the transfer portal. In his three seasons with Northwestern, he tallied 129 total tackles, nine interceptions, and six passes defended. He is up for four awards, including the Thorpe award for best defensive back in the nation and the Lott IMPACT trophy, given to the defensive player who has the largest impact on their team on and off the field.
Notre Dame football biggest game on 2022 schedule
Notre Dame’s biggest game is the season-opener against Ohio State. Freeman coach’s in his first season-opening game as head coach against the team that he played linebacker for during his collegiate career. This is a team that boasts future NFL prospects like quarterback C.J. Stroud and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
This is an opportunity for Notre Dame, as they can take down one of the most successful programs in the nation in the opening week of the season. If they can do so, the National Championship hype will certainly follow.
Notre Dame football best-case scenario
When it comes to the best-case scenario, they hold an advantage when it comes to the College Football Playoff committee. Every year, they are highly ranked despite the fact that they are an independent school. In all likelihood, Notre Dame will lose to Ohio State in the opening week. Even so, if they can limit themselves to just one loss on the year, they can gain a spot in the CFP Semifinals, depending on how some of the other top teams fair in the 2022 season.
Notre Dame football worst-case scenario
The worst-case scenario? Well, if they lose more than one game, they can kiss a spot in the Playoff goodbye. The Fighting Irish face off against some formidable teams, such as Clemson, BYU, and USC. Clemson will be the toughest battle of them all, but do not forget that Notre Dame defeated them in 2020. You can not rule out the Trojans, who have made strides once they hired Lincoln Riley as their new head coach, and he brought over quarterback Caleb Williams with him.
Long story short, more than one loss will be detrimental to Notre Dame’s National Championship aspirations.
Notre Dame’s 2022 Season Prediction
Much like every year, you can pretty much lock in that the Fighting Irish will notch double-digit wins in 2022. They do face some tough challenges this season, with Ohio State and Clemson, both of whom are ranked in the Top Four of the AP Top 25 preseason rankings list. Yet, they have an easy enough schedule to get themselves to a prominent bowl game to end their season.
Notre Dame’s 2022 Bowl Game Prediction
College Football News projects that Notre Dame will play in the Citrus Bowl against North Carolina State.
Up Next: No. 7 Utah Utes
Other articles in this series:
- No. 50: Nebraska Cornhuskers
- No. 49: Iowa State Cyclones
- No. 48: Maryland Terrapins
- No. 47: UCF Knights
- No. 46: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
- No. 45: Appalachian State Mountaineers
- No. 44: Auburn Tigers
- No. 43: Louisville Cardinals
- No. 42: Boston College Eagles
- No. 41: South Carolina Gamecocks
- No. 40: Kansas State Wildcats
- No. 39: Fresno State Bulldogs
- No. 38: Minnesota Golden Gophers
- No. 37: UCLA Bruins
- No. 36: Florida State Seminoles
- No. 35: Boise State Broncos
- No. 34: Florida Gators
- No. 33: Mississippi State Bulldogs
- No. 32: Purdue Boilermakers
- No. 31: Iowa Hawkeyes
- No. 30: Air Force Falcons
- No. 29: Ole Miss Rebels
- No. 28: LSU Tigers
- No. 27: Houston Cougars
- No. 26: BYU Cougars
- No. 25: Texas Longhorns
- No. 24: Pittsburgh Panthers
- No. 23: Penn State Nittany Lions
- No. 22: Kentucky Wildcats
- No. 21: Arkansas Razorbacks
- No. 20: Oklahoma State Cowboys
- No. 19: Wisconsin Badgers
- No. 18: Michigan State Spartans
- No. 17: Tennessee Volunteers
- No. 16: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- No. 15: Cincinnati Bearcats
- No. 14: Miami Hurricanes
- No. 13: Baylor Bears
- No. 12: Oklahoma Sooners
- No. 11: Oregon Ducks
- No. 10: NC State Wolfpack
- No. 9: USC Trojans