The biggest news surrounding the Notre Dame program in the offseason was the stunning decision for longtime head coach Brian Kelly to take over at Louisiana State. The Fighting Irish stayed in-house and hired defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman as the new head coach.
There are some questions, especially at quarterback with Tyler Buchner taking over as the starter. Buchner was Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher as a freshman despite limited action so he could put up some huge rushing numbers.
The Fighting Irish only had two players selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, the fewest since 2017 and that means that many of the same players that had Notre Dame close to another College Football Playoff appearance are back.
Notre Dame had another top-10 ranked recruiting class with linebackers Jaylen Sneed and Josh Burnham and defensive lineman Tyson Ford the top-rated incoming freshmen so time will tell if they contribute immediately.
The Fighting Irish come in at No. 5 in both the American Football Coaches Association and Associated Press polls so the Fighting Irish have a chance to compete for a national title once again. Opening the season by traveling to Ohio State will provide a glimpse into how good this team is. The Fighting Irish come in at No. 6 in our breakdown of the top 50 teams in the nation heading into the 2022 season.
The college football odds list a -2000 Moneyline for the Fighting Irish to not be among the four schools to take part in the College Football Playoffs.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- 2021 record: 11-2
- Head coach: Marcus Freeman
The discussion about the Notre Dame offense should start with all-everything tight end Michael Mayer who had 71 catches and 840 receiving yards as a sophomore. Tight ends don’t usually garner much Heisman Trophy chatter but according to the college football picks, Mayer has +10000 odds for the most prestigious individual award in college football.
Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List pic.twitter.com/vNPCXOZ1x6
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 1, 2022
Although the most productive outside receiver (Kevin Austin) is gone, the Fighting Irish do return Avery Davis, Braden Lenzy, and Lorenzo Styles who combined for 83 catches and 1,040 yards in 2021. The running backs will have some work to do is as effective in the passing game as Williams as he had 42 catches a season ago.
A new quarterback will need to be found following the departure of Jack Coan (3,150 passing yards, 25 touchdown passes). Buchner, who was 21 of 35 passing for 298 yards with three touchdown throws and three interceptions, won the starting job over fellow sophomore Drew Pyne.
Logan Diggs could see an expanded role with 1,000-yard rusher Kyren Williams off to the NFL. Chris Tyree is another returning running back to keep an eye on.
Starting linemen Joe Alt, Andrew Kristofic, Josh Lugg, and Jarrett Patterson are all back. Patterson is questionable for the season opener at Ohio State but he is still being touted as one of the best interior offensive line prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft. Notre Dame is young at the tackle spot with Alt and Blake Fisher, both sophomores, the likely starters.
The defense not only returns leading tackler JD Bertrand, the first Notre Dame player since 2018 to record more than 100 tackles in a season, but also 260-pound defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks) could be the first Notre Dame player selected in the 2023 draft.
Jayson Ademiola (49 tackles, seven tackles for loss) and his twin brother Justin Ademiola (five sacks) return on the defensive line.
Linebackers Bo Bauer and Jack Kiser are joined by defensive backs Clarence Lewis, DJ Brown and Cam Hart as the Fighting Irish return eight of the top 10 tacklers from 2021.
Notre Dame had to play six games without star safety Kyle Hamilton so that gave other players a chance to thrive. The secondary adds Brandon Joseph from Northwestern while defensive lineman Chris Smith comes in from Harvard.
Five defensive backs transferred as did offensive lineman Quinn Carroll.
Notre Dame has to replace punter Jay Bramblett (43.8 yards per punt in 2021) and kicker Jonathan Doerer. Chris Tyree was one of the top kickoff returners in the country but with Williams handling the punt return duties, somebody new will have to emerge in that role.
There are some key players that need to be replaced on both sides of the ball but there is plenty of talent for Notre Dame to enjoy another special season. At least three Notre Dame players are being touted as potential first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
A total of 14 players transferred out of Notre Dame. However, most of them were in reserve roles so while it could hurt Notre Dame’s depth, there is enough returning talent to overcome those losses.
The Fighting Irish have won five consecutive season openers. That streak could be at risk. Notre Dame is currently listed as a 16-point underdog in the season opener at Ohio State. In the next seven games before the huge showdown with ACC favorite Clemson, the only team the Fighting Irish face with a regular season projected win total better than Notre Dame’s is the contest against BYU.
Something to consider for those who bet online, Notre Dame covered in each of its last seven regular season games in 2021.
The expected regular-season win total of 8½ according to the college football odds features -155 odds for Notre Dame to over that total. There are +125 odds for the Fighting Irish to finish with eight wins or less.
- Sept. 3 at Ohio State
- Sept. 10 vs Marshall
- Sept. 17 vs California
- Sept. 24 at North Carolina
- Oct. 8 vs Brigham Young (at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas)
- Oct. 15 vs Stanford
- Oct. 22 vs UNLV
- Oct. 29 at Syracuse
- Nov. 5 vs Clemson
- Nov. 12 vs Navy (at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore)
- Nov. 19 vs Boston College
- Nov. 26 at Southern California