Notre Dame’s 2022 schedule and game-by-game predictions
There, I did you a favor by keeping “way too early” out of the headline but the following is certainly a much too early look and prediction at how Notre Dame football will fare in Marcus Freeman’s debut season as head coach.
It’s a tough year for those who say Notre Dame doesn’t play anyone as Ohio State, Clemson, and USC all could very possibly be top 10 teams while a neutral site game against BYU and a trip to North Carolina don’t figure to be gimmes.
So how will Notre Dame fare in 2022?
Here is a much too early look at Notre Dame’s 2022 football season by going game-by-game.
Sept. 3 - at Ohio State
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The storybook career of Marcus Freeman sees his first regular season game as Notre Dame’s head coach coming at the school he played college football at, Ohio State. One of the all-time powerhouses in the sport, this Buckeyes squad has a case to be 2022’s preseason number-one with firepower on offense that few figure to be able to slow down.
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Notre Dame 21
Sept. 10 vs. Marshall
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Notre Dame’s home opener comes against a first-time opponent for the Irish as they welcome Marshall to South Bend. The difference in talent in this one? Remember how good Cain Madden was at Marshall (an All-American) and how much he struggled at Notre Dame last year? The Irish get Marcus Freeman his first win cruising to a home-opening victory.
Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Marshall 17
Sept. 17 vs. California
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Notre Dame and Cal are set to meet for the first time since 1967 and for just the fifth time ever (Notre Dame has taken all four previous meetings). This Bears squad is just 15-25 in Pac 12 play under Justin Wilcox and we’re all aware of the unimpressive run that conference has had. Notre Dame manhandles the Bears to move to 2-1.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Cal 13
Sept. 24 - at North Carolina
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For the third season in a row Notre Dame will take on North Carolina. Mack Brown has brought in a ton of talent for the Tar Heels in recent years but that hasn’t resulted in the on-the-field results they’ve desired. Figure more of the same for North Carolina here as the Irish continue their domination over the Tar Heels historically.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 20
Oct. 1 - Bye Week
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After beating North Carolina, Notre Dame moves to 3-1 a third of the way into the season and Marcus Freeman moves to 3-2 as a head coach all-time. Will he ever be right at .500 or below as a head coach again? A difficult trip out west awaits next.
Oct. 8 - vs. BYU (Allegiant Stadium - Las Vegas)
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A trip to Sin City for the Shamrock Series against what could be a top 20 BYU team to start the season comes after the bye. For whatever reason Notre Dame has always played really well in the Shamrock Series (besides an ugly 2015 win vs. Boston College) and I expect more of the same here in what will be a huge opportunity for a solid Cougars squad. Notre Dame eeks this one out.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, BYU 24
Oct. 15 - vs. Stanford
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If you haven’t noticed, Stanford has fallen on hard times in recent years. They return to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 2018 this October and another rout should be in store for a Fighting Irish defense that dominated the Cardinal again last season.
Prediction: Notre Dame 44, Stanford 13
Oct. 22 - vs. UNLV
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If you were to rank the ten worst all-time programs in all of FBS college football, UNLV would have a case to be included. Their first trip to Notre Dame Stadium won’t be one to remember besides for the sites.
Prediction: Notre Dame 48, UNLV 3
Oct. 29 - at Syracuse
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For just the second time ever, Notre Dame football travels to play in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse. Since 2018 when the Orange went 10-3 and finished in the top 15, they’ve gone just 11-24 since. They went just 2-6 in the lowly ACC a season ago and don’t figure to be much improved in 2022.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 17
Nov. 5 - vs. Clemson
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Game of the year? There are three that stick out entering 2022 for Notre Dame with Clemson’s trip to South Bend being the highlight of the home schedule. The Tigers should be improved offensively this year after struggling mightily on that side of the ball a season ago. The defense loses their long-time defensive coordinator Brent Venables to Oklahoma but has plenty of star-talent remaining. Will Notre Dame be knocking on the College Football Playoff door in 2022? A win on their home field against Clemson is an absolute must, especially if the opener at Ohio State goes how I currently feel.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Clemson 30
Nov. 12 - vs. Navy (MT&T Stadium - Baltimore)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Navy was a thorn in the side of Notre Dame from 2007-2016 as the Midshipmen won four times in ten contests after not winning a game in the series for over four decades. Recent years the Irish domination has returned however and you should expect to see that again, even if it’s the week after a huge game versus Clemson.
Prediction: Notre Dame 41, Navy 10
Nov. 19 - vs. Boston College
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2018 standout recruit in Notre Dame’s class, quarterback Phil Jurkovec will make his final start at Notre Dame Stadium on senior day 2022. It will also however be his first after the former top-100 recruit transferred to Boston College following the 2019 season. Jurkovec will be one of the best quarterbacks in college football in 2022 but will fall just short as the improving Eagles nearly ruin Notre Dame’s CFP hopes.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 27
Nov. 26 - at USC
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Have you missed the Notre Dame-USC rivalry being great like it was in sixties and seventies? Those days appear to be returning after both coaching changes this off-season. This could be a meeting of top 10 squads both threatening to make the College Football Playoff in 2022. Lincoln Riley has already upgraded the talent greatly for the Trojans but will they be able to stop anyone remains to be seen.
The good news will be this is the first edition of change for a rivalry that has lacked sustained simultaneous greatness from both programs for decades.
The bad news?
Lincoln Riley and USC win round one against Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame as the Trojans sneak out a thriller to keep their CFP dreams alive.
Prediction: USC 38, Notre Dame 37
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USC spoiled Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff chances after the Irish fell the final week of their regular season. Unfortunately for the previously 11-1 Trojans, a Pac 12 championship loss to 10-2 Oregon keeps them from the CFP as well.
Ohio State, who beat Notre Dame in week one, goes unbeaten and makes the CFP as the No. 1 seed.
Alabama and Georgia again both get to the SEC Championship and both get to the playoff after going 12-1 in the regular season.
Clemson, who Notre Dame beat earlier in the year, runs the table the rest of the year and returns to the CFP.
Oregon goes to the Rose Bowl which bumps 11-2 USC to the Orange Bowl where they get another date with Notre Dame.
This time the shootout goes the way of the Fighting Irish as Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame benefit from a missed block in the back on a punt return that sets up a last-second Irish victory.
Prediction: 38-37 win vs. USC in Orange Bowl
2022 Final Record: 11-2