Even though Notre Dame lost highly successful football coach Brian Kelly to LSU, the excitement is palpable around the program entering the 2022 season because of rising young star head coach Marcus Freeman. What to expect from the Irish? Let’s take a look at this analysis for your College Football Odds.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2022 Football Season Preview
Notre Dame just missed out on a spot in last season’s College Football Playoff in finishing with an 11-1 record – the lone loss was to Cincinnati early in the season and the Bearcats made the playoff instead of the Irish.
Coach Brian Kelly left for LSU after the regular-season finale and the Irish promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. He coached the Irish in a 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. With his 509-yard performance through the air, Jack Coan set a school record for passing yards in a bowl game (passing Jimmy Clausen, 401 yards, 2008 Hawai’i Bowl). He also set program records for most pass completions (38) in a single game and pass attempts (68) in a single game.
Coan became just the second player in program history to have a 500-yard passing game (Joe Theismann – 526 vs. USC, 1970). Coan set a career high with five touchdown passes, which is tied for second most for a single game in program history.
Tight end Michael Mayer finished the game with seven receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns tied a career high. Mayer broke two Notre Dame records in the win. He set the record for most touchdowns by a tight end in a single season with seven and most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 840. While Mayer is back, Coan and top running back Kyren Williams are gone. Williams rushed for 1,002 yards and 14 TDs last year.
Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne are battling for the starting QB spot – Buchner is expected to win it. Buchner was sensational in attracting national attention on the recruiting trail a few years back. In his junior season at Bishop’s High School in La Jolla, Calif., he accounted for an unfathomable 6,084 yards and 81 touchdowns – 4,474 yards and 53 touchdowns passing and 1,610 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing.
In 2021 with the Irish, Buchner flashed with his feet more than his arm, snapping off runs of 14 yards (North Carolina), 20 (Purdue), 26 (Toledo), 33 (Stanford) and 68 yards (Georgia Tech). He rallied Notre Dame at Virginia Tech before giving way to Coan for his own fourth-quarter dramatics. But three of Buchner’s 35 passes were intercepted. He tied Williams for the “team lead” in fumbles with three.
“I feel more like a leader now than I did last year,” Buchner said. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been here another year or getting reps with the ones and doing stuff sometimes. I knew the playbook pretty well last year, but I know it even better now.”
Chris Tyree should be the featured back. Dangerous with the ball out of the backfield or as a passing target, was fourth on the team with 827 all-purpose yards as a sophomore in 2021. He scored three touchdowns, one on special teams and two through the air and finished the year with a career-best 115 receiving years and a touchdown against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The defense is led by pass-rusher Isaiah Foskey, who a junior in 2021 led the Irish with 11 sacks – the third-most in a single season at Notre Dame. He had a sack in nine of 13 contests, including two multi-sack performances. Foskey led the defense with 12.5 tackles for loss and finished fourth overall on the team with 52 tackles. A ballhawk in the trenches, as he posted six of Notre Dame’s 13 forced fumbles on the season while collecting two fumble recoveries.
Last year’s defense forced 25 takeaways thanks to a steady two or more in nine of the 13 games. The Irish were 8-1 when coming up with a two or more takeaways – the lone loss was the Fiesta Bowl. Before that they won 35 straight games – going back to the 2017 early heartbreaker against Georgia – when they forced multiple turnovers.
In new Coach Marcus Freeman, the Irish have a relentless recruiter with a full understanding of Notre Dame’s expectations and standards. “We will be disciplined, we will be tough, we will work tirelessly,” Freeman says. He’s considered a master recruiter.
Notre Dame opens the season as a 15.5-point underdog at Ohio State but the Irish might be favored in each of the last 11 games – with the possible exceptions of the home game against Clemson and road date at USC.
Notre Dame Expert Prediction
- 10-2, New Year’s Six bowl game