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The 2022 Schedule Presents A Unique Test For Notre Dame

Notre Dame's top heavy schedule for 2022 presents the Irish with a unique test

Notre Dame has benefitted a great deal in recent seasons from schedules that turned out to be soft compared to past years. At times the schedule is filled with solid but unspectacular teams, and other times opponents that were supposed to be strong turned out not to be so.

The 2022 football schedule is quite unique compared to recent seasons. There are some similarities with past seasons, as just three of Notre Dame's opponents finished the 2021 season ranked. The difference in this year's schedule, however, is that the top of Notre Dame's schedule is expected to be much, much tougher.

Three of Notre Dame's opponents enter the season ranked in the top ten by at least one outlet, including two that are consistently in the top five. Four of Notre Dame's opponents are consistently ranked in the Top 25. Two of those opponents - Ohio State and Clemson - are more legitimate Top 10 opponents than what we've seen in recent years.

Another unique aspect to the schedule is the season opener. Ohio State is without question the best opponent in Notre Dame's schedule, at least based on last season's success and their placement in the polls. Notre Dame doesn't get a warm up game for the Buckeyes.

Not since 2018 has Notre Dame began the season against an opponent ranked in the preseason polls. That season Michigan was ranked 14th, but the Buckeyes are expected to be ranked among the top three programs. 

Prior to the 2018 matchup against Michigan, Notre Dame had not faced a preseason Top 25 team in the opener since 2005 when the Irish started off against No. 23 Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame won both of those games, beat the Wolverines by a 24-17 score and the Panthers by a 42-21 score.

Beyond Ohio State and Clemson, the next best opponent on the schedule is BYU, who went 10-3 last season and finished ranked 19th. Notre Dame hasn't faced a schedule with three opponents that won at least 10 games since 2017.

Southern Cal is expected to be another team that can win 10+ games, but the Trojans are coming off a 4-8 campaign. USC is one of seven opponents on the 2022 schedule that finished the 2021 season with a losing record. Another opponent - Boston College - went just 6-6 last fall. The next best record is Marshall, who went 7-6.

It will certainly be a unique test for Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman.

Let's take a look at the schedule.

NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Sep. 3 - at Ohio State Buckeyes
Sep. 10 - Marshall Thundering Herd
Sep. 17 - California Golden Bears
Sep. 24 - at North Carolina Tar Heels
Oct. 8 - vs. BYU Cougars (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Oct. 15 - Stanford Cardinal
Oct. 22 - UNLV Rebels
Oct. 29 - at Syracuse Orange
Nov. 5 - Clemson Tigers
Nov. 12 - vs. Navy Midshipmen (Baltimore, Md.)
Nov. 19 - Boston College Eagles
Nov. 26 - at USC Trojans

NOTRE DAME OPPONENT OVERVIEW

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

2021 Record: 11-2
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Ohio State leads 4-2
Last Meeting: Ohio State won 45-28 on Jan. 1, 2016 (Fiesta Bowl)

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD

2021 Record: 7-6
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: First ever meeting

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

2021 Record: 5-7
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 41-8 on Sep. 23, 1967

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

2021 Record: 6-7
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 20-2
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 44-34 on Oct. 30, 2021

BYU COUGARS

2021 Record: 10-3
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 4-2
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 23-13 on Nov. 23, 2013

STANFORD CARDINAL

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2021 Record: 3-9
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 22-13
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 45-14 on Nov. 27, 2021

UNLV REBELS

2021 Record: 2-10
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: First ever meeting

SYRACUSE ORANGE

2021 Record: 5-7
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 7-3
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 45-21 on Dec. 5, 2020

CLEMSON TIGERS

2021 Record: 10-3
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Clemson leads 4-2
Last Meeting: Clemson won 34-10 on Dec. 19, 2020 - ACC Championship

NAVY MIDSHIPMEN

2021 Record: 4-8
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 80-13-1
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 34-6 on Nov. 6, 2021

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES

2021 Record: 6-6
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 17-9
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 45-31 on Nov. 14, 2020

USC TROJANS

2021 Record: 4-8
All-Time vs. Notre Dame: Notre Dame leads 50-37-5
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 31-16 on Oct. 23, 2021

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Ranking The 2022 Signees - Offense
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