Notre Dame football 2022: Fighting Irish Wire staff game-by-game predictions

Notre Dame enters a rare time in its modern football history where the Irish are playing for a new head coach despite the previous one not being relieved of his duties.

charlie weis, tyrone willingham, and Bob Davie were all forced out while Lou Holtz didn’t exactly have the prettiest of exits.  

What comes with that however isn’t a sense of rebuild but more of a reload.  

How does Notre Dame take the incredibly strong standing it accomplished under Brian Kelly and grow that into a team with a legitimate shot at winning a national championship under Marcus Freeman?

The first year isn’t an easy one for Freeman as Notre Dame has trips to Ohio State and USC on the docket,

while a neutral site game in Las Vegas against BYU won’t be easy and welcoming a pre-season top-five Clemson team to South Bend highlights the home slate.

So what is a fair expectation for this squad?  And where do you expect the Irish to be playing come bowl season?

Here is how the Fighting Irish staff sees the season going – game by game. 9jin8k ujynhbthuihgu 7hygtfr

Sept. 3 at Ohio State Geoffrey Clark: It’s unfortunate that Notre Dame has to start its schedule with a game that likely will put it out of CFP contention, but I don’t see it playing out any other way. Ohio State 35, Notre Dame 17

Sept. 3 at Ohio State Michael Chen: The Irish defense will make this game closer than many expect but due to the youth at the skill positions on offense, the Marcus Freeman era starts off 0-2. Ohio State 31 Notre Dame 21

Sept. 3 at Ohio State Jeff Feyerer: I don’t feel good about this. I want to. But I don’t. And while I wish I had more brilliant analysis, this is an extraordinarily tough hill to climb in Week 1. Ohio State 38, Notre Dame 20

Sept. 3 at Ohio State Nick Shepkowski: Ohio State has what might be the nation’s best offense but their defense is gettable.  Can the Irish shorten the game enough is the question because they won’t be able to go blow-for-blow in a shootout.  They hang around but can’t sneak out with the upset.  Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 27

Sept. 10 vs. Marshall Geoffrey Clark: If the Irish can’t take care of an opponent like this in its home opener, something is seriously wrong, and all the questions about Freeman will be legitimized.  Notre Dame 45, Marshall 13

Sept. 10 vs. Marshall Michael Chen: Time to get the first Freeman win, this game should be over early and the Irish should cruise.  Notre Dame 38, Marshall 10

Sept. 10 vs. Marshall Jeff Feyerer: The Irish get right following the blowout road loss. I heard someone compare this to the Toledo game from last year, but think the Rockets were better than the Herd.  Notre Dame 34, Marshall 13

Sept. 10 vs. Marshall Nick Shepkowski: Are the two playing for the Cain Madden Trophy?  Marcus Freeman gets his first career win as a head coach under his belt.  Notre Dame 37, Marshall 10

Sept. 17 vs. Cal Geoffrey Clark: Not exactly an even matchup, and the game is at home. So again, I expect no problems for Notre Dame here.  Notre Dame 38, Cal 13

Sept. 17 vs. Cal Michael Chen: Inferior teams should take losses like this to quality opponents. Notre Dame outmatches the Bears significantly.  Notre Dame 38, Cal 14

Sept. 17 vs. Cal Jeff Feyerer: Buchner continues to gain confidence, the offensive line continues to dominate and the front seven continues eating people for lunch.  Notre Dame 41, Cal 17

Sept. 17 vs. Cal Nick Shepkowski: Notre Dame’s running game will absolutely feast while sporting the green jerseys.  Look for over 300 rushing yards by the Irish today.  Notre Dame 41, Cal 10

Sept. 24 at North Carolina Geoffrey Clark: Notre Dame hasn’t had any problems with the Tar Heels when they’ve played them in recent years, and I don’t expect this one to go any differently.  Notre Dame 35, North Carolina 10

Sept. 24 at North Carolina Michael Chen: No Sam Howell, no problem for the Irish. As fun as it was to watch the Tar Heel offense the last few years, this is a transition season for them.  Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 10

Sept. 24 at North Carolina Jeff Feyerer: Even on the road, I don’t expect the Irish to have many issues with a Tar Heels team who lost Sam Howell to the NFL.  Notre Dame 37, North Carolina 14

Sept. 24 at North Carolina Nick Shepkowski: Notre Dame is going to be good but that doesn’t mean they won’t put up an ugly showing or two along the way.  They’re more talented everywhere but going on the road to Carolina means it’s just a little harder to get up for a game than when you go to Ohio State, especially with the bye week forthcoming.  Survive and advance in one of the uglier showings of the year.  Notre Dame 27, North Carolina 20

Oct. 8 vs. BYU (Las Vegas) Geoffrey Clark: The Irish always seem to turn to show up with a vengeance in these Shamrock Series games, and they’ve beaten better competition in them, too (Wisconsin hung with the Irish for about three quarters in last year’s contest).  Notre Dame 49, BYU 21 Michael Chen: The Irish won’t lose wearing their Shamrock Series unis although the Cougars won’t just lay down.  Notre Dame 31, BYU 21

Oct. 8 vs. BYU (Las Vegas) Jeff Feyerer: The Irish will show up and show out for the game in Vegas. They kind of have to after the “Hangover” video. Notre Dame 35, BYU 13 Nick Shepkowski: BYU brings back as much production from a year ago as almost any team in the country and will be a tough putt but there is something about this series that gets the Irish to usually show out rather well.  Expect more of that here.  Notre Dame 33, BYU 17

Oct. 15 vs. Stanford Geoffrey Clark: The Irish have had the upper hand in this series, and they definitely won’t let that script flip in South Bend.  Notre Dame 50, Stanford 18 Michael Chen: The confidence is starting to grow and the Irish keep rolling against another team from the West coast.  Notre Dame 38, Stanford 7

Oct. 15 vs. Stanford Jeff Feyerer: Another week, another blowout on a schedule full of potential blowouts. This is not the same David Shaw team I remember.  Notre Dame 41, Stanford 10 Nick Shepkowski: The last time Stanford came to Notre Dame Stadium in 2018 it was a battle of top-10 teams that the Irish flat-out dominated and ever since the two have gone in entirely different directions.  That continues in mid-October as the Irish win big.  Notre Dame 45, Stanford 10

Oct. 22 vs. UNLV Geoffrey Clark: This game only will be available on Peacock, but I don’t think Rebels fans will mind once they learn how this one plays out.  Notre Dame 44, UNLV 9 Michael Chen: The first shutout of the season is here and the Irish completely dominate this one.  Notre Dame 42, UNLV 0

Oct. 22 vs. UNLV Jeff Feyerer: A mid-season mid-major with a projected losing record…this smells like a multiple 100-yard rusher game (maybe 3?).  Notre Dame 42, UNLV 7 Nick Shepkowski: Just how nice of a guy is Marcus Freeman?  The final score will tell us a lot because he should be able to pick the number.  UNLV will be in the running for the worst team Notre Dame has played since they hosted the SMU squad that was ravished from the death penalty in the late-80’s.  Notre Dame 52, UNLV 0.

Oct. 29 at Syracuse Geoffrey Clark: The Orange should prove to be a formidable foe, but ultimately, it’s not going to be that close.  Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 14 Michael Chen: A closer than expected victory for the Irish as they suffer a few miscues looking ahead to Clemson.  Notre Dame 34, Syracuse 21

Oct. 29 at Syracuse Jeff Feyerer: The Orange will be coming off a game against Clemson and while they are talented, I don’t see them hanging with the Irish even at home.  Notre Dame 35, Syracuse 14 Nick Shepkowski: Sean Tucker is one of the best running backs in college football so I’m curious to see Notre Dame’s defensive front take him on.  And I’m curious is Dino Babers will still be coaching Syracuse still at this point.  Irish cruise.  Notre Dame 34, Syracuse 17

Nov. 5 vs. Clemson Geoffrey Clark: The Tigers remain a quality program, and I can’t see the Irish being able to stick with them for an entire game, though it won’t be for a lack of effort.  Clemson 33, Notre Dame 28 Michael Chen: The second big test of the season goes the way of the Irish as they exact revenge on the Tigers for the ACC Championship game loss.  Notre Dame 28, Clemson 21

Nov. 5 vs. Clemson Jeff Feyerer: I think DJ Uiagalelei bounces back from a hugely disappointing 2021 and the Tigers front seven is scary, but the Irish are rolling by this point and move to 8-1.  Notre Dame 31, Clemson 23 Nick Shepkowski: The biggest home game of the season could have massive College Football Playoff implications with the winner remaining alive and the loser likely being eliminated.  Two fantastic defensive fronts, who creates more offense, or turnovers, to win?  The hometown Irish make one more play than Clemson and escape with the dub.  Notre Dame 28, Clemson 27

Nov. 12 vs. Navy (Baltimore) Geoffrey Clark: The Irish rarely have had problems with the Midshipmen, and their more traditional style will win out once again.  Notre Dame 52, Navy 17 Michael Chen: It’s always tough going against the Naval Academy’s style of play but the Irish are way too talented to lose this one.  Notre Dame 31, Navy 10

Nov. 12 vs. Navy (Baltimore) Jeff Feyerer: Navy slows the game down, but the Irish remain calm and pull out a closer than expected win.  Notre Dame 28, Navy 14 Nick Shepkowski: How do you stop a triple-option attack?  Blow up the line of scrimmage again and again and again, something the Notre Dame defensive front will do to Navy yet again.  Notre Dame 41, Navy 10

Nov. 19 vs. Boston College Geoffrey Clark: While the Eagles have had some nice players to round out their roster over the past years, they haven’t intimidated the Irish one bit. Why should this be any different?  Notre Dame 39, Boston College 21 Michael Chen: A reminder to former Irish quarterback Phil Jurkovec that he should have stuck around.  Notre Dame 31, Boston College 10

Nov. 19 vs. Boston College Jeff Feyerer: A proper senior day send-off as the Irish wallop the Eagles. Three touchdowns for Michael Mayer in his final home game.  Notre Dame 37, Boston College 13 Nick Shepkowski: Phil Jurkovec’s recent comments will make the storylines for this one that much better but it still shouldn’t be much of a contest.  Notre Dame 34, Boston College 20

Nov. 26 at USC Geoffrey Clark: This will be the closest victory of the season by far as the Trojans will give this one everything they’ve got. In the end, the more experienced Irish will pull it off.  Notre Dame 30, USC 27 Michael Chen: The Trojans will have plenty of time to have established what Lincoln Riley wants to accomplish, especially on offense. Unfortunately, although the Irish will be much improved on offense by this game, it’s just now quite enough to pull out the victory.  USC 38, Notre Dame 21

Nov. 26 at USC Jeff Feyerer: It hurt typing this, but the painful moments of those end of the season games at USC under Weis and Quinn for whatever reason trump the ones that propelled the Irish to the title game/playoffs. Caleb Williams is going to have a huge year and guess what…I’m pretty sure they got a good one in Lincoln Riley.  USC 31, Notre Dame 28

Nick Shepkowski: The Notre Dame-USC rivalry has lacked sustained greatness on both sides during my football watching life.  It has mattered for one team but not the other the vast majority but under both new coaches I think we’re headed to this rivalry again being among the best and biggest nationally, annually.  

If you know where the open roads are going to take you, choosing an RV will be a little easier.

Nick Shepkowski: USC has the advantage on skill players offensively but Notre Dame’s line on both sides does enough to get past the 7-on-7 all-stars.  Notre Dame 30, USC 27

Bowl projections - Geoffrey Clark: While it won’t be the bowl the 10-2 Irish expected, I can see other teams jumping them in more prominent New Year’s Six games. Still, a trip to Dallas would give them an opportunity to exorcize the demons of the relocated Rose Bowl and CFP semifinal from two years earlier. And maybe, just maybe, they can hold onto the lead in a New Year’s Six bowl this time.

Bowl projections - Michael Chen This is tough but a 10-2 record should put the Irish in position for a solid bowl game. The biggest question is which one and after looking at how the New Year’s Six teams are selected, they will end up in, picks one out of a hat, Orange Bowl which sets the team up very nicely for Freeman’s sophomore coaching campaign.

Bowl projections - Jeff Feyerer Losing at Ohio State and at USC and ending with a 10-2 record should absolutely be looked at as success for Freeman. I would certainly feel worse if they lose a game to one of the other teams on the schedule. 

Bowl projections - Jeff Feyerer I need to see Buchner get through significant time without getting hurt before I get my hopes up too high, but I think a 10-2 class with who they have returning in 2023 plus the Class of 2023 will mean big things (and expectations) for Year two as they finish 2022 in Miami and an Orange Bowl appearance.

Bowl projections - Nick Shepkowski I don’t think Notre Dame is one of the four best teams in the nation as I type this out in late-August but I think they’re the second best team out of of the 12 they’ll play.  Can Tyler Buchner stay healthy and if so, what steps can he take?  The good news is that he’ll have time between the Ohio State game and BYU to grow and then another month before Clemson. 

Bowl projections - Nick Shepkowski If he does and the receivers can be decent, we’re looking at a real shot at 11-1.  Now tell me that 11-1 with wins over USC, Clemson, and BYU and a competitive game at Ohio State won’t be enough to get in?  The fourth seeded Irish make the College Football Playoff in Freeman’s first year where they meet up with the SEC champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football