After five straight 10-win seasons, Brian Kelly departed South Bend. Kelly leaves Notre Dame as the winningest coach in program history, and he was easily the most successful coach the Fighting Irish have had since Lou Holtz. Former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has some big shoes to fill in replacing Kelly, and this is the first time the 36-year-old has been a head coach. We will find out just how far along Notre Dame is early in the season when the Fighting Irish head to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 1.
Regular Season Wins for Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Over 9 +101
Under 9 -121
Notre Dame has won at least nine regular season games for five straight years. However, the Fighting Irish have a new coach and face a very tough schedule in 2022. They must replace star running back Kyren Williams and starting quarterback Jack Coan, and they lose their top receiver from last year too. That will make it tough for Notre Dame to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Tyler Buchner is likely to start the season at quarterback ahead of Drew Pyne. Buchner was primarily used as a runner last year, but he has reportedly developed as a passer and should be the signal caller in Week 1 against Ohio State. We saw Buchner complete 21 of 35 passes for 298 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions last season, and he ran the ball 46 times for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is sure to have a lot of RPO in his system in order to take advantage of Buchner’s mobility.
Chris Tyree and Logan Diggs are going to be the top two running backs now that Kyren Williams is playing on Sundays. Tyree and Diggs split time as Williams’ backup last year and finished with very similar numbers. They will have the benefit of running behind a strong offensive line with four returning starters including Third Team All-American center Jarrett Patterson.
The Fighting Irish boast the best tight end in the country in Michael Mayer. He was Notre Dame’s top target in the passing game last year with 71 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns, and he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Avery Davis, Braden Lenzy, and Lorenzo Styles all saw significant action at receiver last year, and that will help Buchner as he becomes QB1.
Marcus Freeman is a defensive mastermind, so Notre Dame should have an elite defense in 2022. The Fighting Irish ranked 15th in Defensive SP+ last year, and they have a good chance of being a top ten unit this season. Notre Dame returns seven starters from last season on defense including Third Team All-American defensive end Isaiah Foskey.
Jayson Ademilola is going to be one of the key returning starters for this defense. He has been an excellent run stuffer in the middle of the defensive line, allowing Isaiah Foskey to get free. The secondary should be strong too with Brandon Joseph transferring in from Northwestern. Cam Hart is a rising star at cornerback, and Houston Griffith provides senior leadership.
There aren’t a lot of toss-ups on this schedule. Notre Dame will likely be a big underdog against Ohio State and Clemson and a big favorite against six of its opponents. The Fighting Irish will be tested by BYU in Las Vegas and could stumble against Navy in Baltimore too prior to their season finale at USC.
The ‘Under’ is the pick here even though Notre Dame is likely going to be one of the best 15 or 20 teams in the country in 2022. The Fighting Irish are going to be hard pressed to beat Ohio State and Clemson, and road/neutral site games against North Carolina, BYU, Navy, and USC are tricky. If Notre Dame is able to get to 10 wins, Freeman should get serious AP Coach of the Year consideration. The Fighting Irish are a team to watch in 2023 though with home games against Ohio State and USC, and a slate that shouldn’t be as difficult.
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