Notre Dame Football End of Season Prediction


Sofia Nevala , Reporter

With three weeks left in the 2022 Notre Dame Football regular season, the Fighting Irish have been steadily improving their reputation and record. With a win over previously undefeated,  #5 Clemson, the Irish are bowl eligible for the sixth straight year, not missing a bowl game since the 4-8 season in 2016. During a rough start to the season (3-3), Notre Dame lost a close game to currently #2 ranked Ohio State and the Irish also dropped two games to unranked opponents, Marshall and Stanford, both at home. Now, with three games left in the season the Irish could finish 9-3 with wins versus Navy, over Boston College in the home finale, and against #8 USC in Los Angeles in the traditional post-Thanksgiving match-up, a tough but seemingly manageable task after last week’s big win. 

Although Navy and BC should be easy wins, the expected wins have been the games that the Irish have struggled in the most this season. As of now, the Irish are a three touchdown favorite against Navy (3-6) for Saturday’s game being played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. Facing the triple option Midshipmen offense is never an easy task. Shutting down the option early, especially on first down, will be important against the disciplined Middies.

Facing the 2-7 Eagles should be an easy way to end the home season and celebrate this year’s group of seniors. The Eagles have struggled this year only picking up wins against Maine and Louisville and most recently losing a close game to Duke. Former Notre Dame QB, Phil Jurkovec, is the starter for the Eagles and will return to Notre Dame for the final home game of the season. Despite the Eagles weak record, Notre Dame has struggled this season against similar opponents. Notre Dame will decide the game based on which team shows up, the Notre Dame team who beat Clemson or the Notre Dame team who lost to Marshall.

The last game of the season for the Irish will be a true test. Going up against #8 USC will be one of the hardest games of the season. Lincoln Riley, now coaching the Trojans, brought along QB Caleb Jones from Oklahoma, and are a completely different team than they were last year. The Trojans were dominant at the beginning of the season before having multiple close games with unranked opponents. Despite this they still have only one loss, so the Irish should be ready for a close and intense game to finish out the season at the LA Coliseum. 

The best Notre Dame could finish this season would be 9-3 with the most likely possibility being, 8-4 with a loss to USC. If the Irish were to beat USC and finish 9-3, Marcus Freeman would match Charlie Weis’s record in his first season as head coach. Despite early criticism, Freeman has improved the Irish to 6-3, with 3 top 25 wins in his first season and a win over a top 5 team (something Brian Kelly did not achieve in 12 years as head coach). The doubters have officially backed off after the win against Clemson and Notre Dame fans have reignited their faith in the Irish. 

The win versus Clemson brought the Irish bowl eligibility. Although there are still three weeks and conference championships to be played, the Irish have been projected to play in a variety of different bowl games. If they finish 9-3, the Irish would have a chance to make the Orange Bowl and possibly face Clemson in a rematch. The more likely 8-4 route could earn the Irish a Gator Bowl or Holiday Bowl appearance. In the Gator Bowl the Irish could face Mississippi St. led by coach Mike Leach and QB Will Rogers. The other option, The Holiday Bowl would give the Irish the chance to play the Utah Utes, with QB Cam Rising. The Utes are the only team to beat USC this season. No matter the outcome of the last three games, the Irish will be making a bowl game this year. They do have a chance to complete Marcus Freeman’s first season head coach by making a New Year’s Six Bowl which would be quite the accomplishment after their early struggles. The next question that remains is whether Freeman can win a bowl game as first year head coach.