We are just two days away from the season opener for No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State. This will be Ireland’s first season under head coach Marcus Freeman, and so far the projections seem to be all over the place.
I’ve heard a few people suggest we’ll see an 11-1 Notre Dame season with another college football playoff appearance. At the same time, others told me they would be happy with seven or eight wins in 2022.
My projection is somewhere in the middle.
I won’t be shocked if Notre Dame pulls off the surprise on Saturday. Ohio State lost twice last year to teams without an elite quarterback or a recent top-five recruiting class.
But I’m still not willing to predict an Irish victory either.
I think Tyler Buchner will be good, but CJ Stroud might be the best quarterback in college football, and that will be too much to overcome on the road in Game 1.
Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 21
Assuming Notre Dame loses to Ohio State the week before, I think they’ll be very motivated to pick up some style points against Marshall and allow quarterback Drew Pyne to pass the ball a bit in the second half, increasing the score a little bit.
Notre Dame 51, Marshall 13
Based on ESPN’s SP+ Preseason Screenings, Cal is expected to have one of the best defenses in 2022 but their defense is expected to fall into the FBS bottom 10. That will keep the Golden Bears hanging on to the Irish for a quarter or two, but by the end of the game, I expect a two-touchdown win for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame 27, Cal 10
Even with quarterback Sam Howell in the NFL, North Carolina is blessed with plenty of offensive talent. Wide receiver Josh Downs has blazing speed and could be a late first-round pick in 2023.
New starting quarterback Drake Maye looked solid in his Week Zero debut. Now, I get it came against Florida A&M, but he did what you’d expect of a capable former top-100 quarterback against an FCS team. He completed 78.4% of his passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns.
That said, I still expected Notre Dame to beat North Carolina in a high score home-and-away game.
Notre Dame 42, North Carolina 38
I know it’s fashionable to pick BYU to upset the Irish, but I’m still going to pick a loss. It’s not that I think the Cougars are better than the Irish. But it’s a complete team, and I expect Marcus Freeman to drop a game he shouldn’t lose in his first season as head coach.
BYU is also one of the most experienced teams in the country, with 88 percent of its production comes back from last season.
BYU 31, Notre Dame 27
Stanford should be much improved this season with 88% of its 2021 production returning this season. Now, that could mean they go from 3-9 to a six- or seven-win season, but I think they’ll give Notre Dame more games than they have in the last few years.
Notre Dame 27, Stanford 20
To be honest, I don’t know much about UNLV other than the fact that the Rebels finished 2-10 last season and project themselves as the worst team the Irish will face in 2022. I expect that Notre Dame put a lot of points on the board early, with UNLV scoring a few touchdowns in the final quarter.
Notre Dame 45, UNLV 17
I think this will be Syracuse’s first season above .500 since they went 10-3 in 2018. Garrett Shrader is the starting quarterback. They should be able to hang on to Notre Dame for the first half or so, before the Notre Dame offense hit the gas in the third quarter and retired for good.
Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 21
We’ll see how Clemson opens the season on Monday against Georgia Tech, but I haven’t been convinced that their offensive issues from a year ago are over.
They could, however, have perhaps the best defense in college football in 2022, at least according to ESPN’s SP+ projections. But their new DC, the inexperienced Wes Bonwinhas a lot to prove.
My prediction is that Notre Dame beat Clemson again at home, even if the Irish produce their weakest game of the season.
Notre Dame 17, Clemson 14
Sometimes playing Navy can be tricky, but we saw how a Freeman leading defense can shut down the triple option last season when Notre Dame beat the Midshipmen 34-6 at home. The results in 2022 will be similar, but the Navy will get at least a double-digit score.
Notre Dame 38, Navy 10
This game was a little more juice after Phil Jurkovec’s recent game reviews at Boston.com. My prediction may sound silly, but I could see Notre Dame hammering the Eagles here, even with former Ireland coach John McNulty as offensive coordinator.
Notre Dame 35, Boston College 10
We’ll see if I’m wrong, but I’m not convinced that USC will solve its problems on the offensive and defensive lines and suddenly become a top-10 team again, even if Andrew Vorhees plays like an All-American. to the left guard.
I guess the Trojans will be improved and win seven or eight games this year, but the Irish will overwhelm them in the trenches and pick up an easy win to wrap up the regular season.
Notre Dame 42, USC 24