It's time to really dive head first into our preview of the 2022 college football season for Notre Dame. I can't think of a better way to start than to take a dive into the preseason and way-too-early rankings for the Irish and their opponents.
The “worldwide leader” has Notre Dame ranked No. 6 in its updated Way-Too-Early Top 25, which is the same spot it had the Irish when it released the initial WTE Top 25 back in January.
“It seems as if everything wasn't rosy between former Irish coach Brian Kelly and the administration before his unexpected departure to LSU. New coach Marcus Freeman, who was Kelly's former defensive coordinator, can make Irish fans forget about Kelly in a hurry if he can win this season. Notre Dame's offensive line, led by tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher, has a chance to be one of the best in the FBS. Bringing back respected offensive line coach Harry Hiestand won't hurt their chances, either. Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne are locked in a pretty good battle for the starting quarterback job, which might not be decided until late in preseason camp. New defensive coordinator Al Golden has some holes to fill up front. Defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina tore an ACL in the first spring practice. The Irish quickly signed Harvard transfer (Chris) Smith to help.” - Mark Schlabach
Four Notre Dame opponents also cracked the ESPN Top 25. Ohio State ranked No. 2, Clemson ranked No. 11, USC ranked No. 12 and BYU ranked No. 19.
Notre Dame ranked No. 5 in the ESPN College Football Power Index. Two opponents ranked higher, with Ohio State checking in at No. 2 and Clemson ranking No. 4.
#22 - North Carolina
#37 - USC
#46 - BYU
#58 - Marshall
#59 - Boston College
#61 - Stanford
#62 - Syracuse
#70 - California
#107 - Navy
#117 - UNLV
ESPN also has its SP+ "rankings" and in that Notre Dame checked in at No. 8.
"In a state of transition after Brian Kelly up and bolted for LSU. Marcus Freeman steps in as head coach with a to-do list that includes settling on a quarterback, beefing up this receiving corps, and finding a way to run the ball after Kyren Williams' departure. Up first: a Week 1 date at Ohio State. Games against BYU (in Vegas), against Clemson, and at a resurgent USC highlight a tough schedule." - Bill Connelly
Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the SP+, Clemson is No. 5 and BYU is No. 5.
It should be noted that Connelly's SP+ had Notre Dame projected to go 7-5 last season.
Lead college football writer Bill Bender has the Irish ranked No. 7 in his post-spring and post-transfer portal rankings ahead of the 2022 season.
"Tyler Buchner is the favorite to be the starting quarterback, but he'll have to hold off Drew Pyne. All-American tight end Michael Mayer is the focal point of an offense that features Chris Tyree, Logan Diggs and breakout candidate Lorenzo Styles Jr. The defense returns edge rusher Isaiah Foskey and a strong group of linebackers. Strength of schedule won't be an issue, not with Ohio State, BYU, Clemson and USC." - Bender
Bender has Ohio State ranked No. 2, Clemson ranked No. 4 and USC ranked No. 14.
College football writer Erick Smith has Notre Dame ranked No. 13 in its updated preseason Top 25. What is interesting is that it is down from where USA Today had the Irish in January.
"Marcus Freeman steps into the shoes of Brian Kelly after the coach departed for LSU. Kelly's tenure ended awkwardly, however don't forget he won 54 games during his past five seasons with two playoff appearances. Asking Freeman to replicate that success is difficult even though the high expectations in South Bend remain. Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne are competing for the quarterback job and the winner will have the pressure of carrying the offense with some questions in the run game. Tight end Michael Mayer is one of the best players at his position. He should be a comfort blanket in the passing game. The defense has the makings of a good group up front. Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph should help a secondary that was shaky at times." - Smith
Smith had Ohio State ranked No. 3, Clemson ranked No. 5 and BYU ranked No. 9.
CBS Sports college football writer Dennis Dodd has the Fighting Irish ranked No. 8 in his post-spring Top 25.
"The Marcus Freeman Experience begins. The 38-year-old defensive coordinator was probably the only logical hire when Brian Kelly left less than a week before Selection Sunday. The first-time head coach takes over a giant. There is plenty of talent around for the Fighting Irish to win 10. Michael Mayer is a John Mackey Award candidate at tight end. Northwestern safety All-American Brandon Joseph is a huge add from the transfer portal. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees made the decision to stay -- with Freeman, in a package deal -- after overtures from Kelly." - Dodd
It should be noted that Freeman is 36 years old.
Notre Dame's season-opening opponent - Ohio State - ranked No. 2 in Dodd's list. Fellow Irish opponents Clemson (No. 11), USC (No. 14) and BYU (No. 22) also cracked the Top 25 from Dodd.
Brad Crawford projected what he felt would be the initial Associated Press rankings to start the season. Crawford had Notre Dame ranked No. 6 in his projected ranking, but it is obvious from his write up that he has some doubts about the Irish and is already talking about the possibility of getting blown out.
"AP voters love Notre Dame. No disrespect to the Fighting Irish ahead of Marcus Freeman's first season, but this team might be in "show-me" mode by Week 2 if they go to Ohio State and get blown out by the Buckeyes. Notre Dame's a bit of a mystery as a College Football Playoff contender considering its quarterback dilemma. The Fighting Irish fell out of the preseason way-too-early top five in our own post-spring update thanks to one voter slotting Notre Dame at No. 15 on his ballot. Establishing a new bellcow early following the departure of Kyren Williams is important, as is force-feeding All-American tight end candidate Michael Mayer a bunch of targets." - Crawford
Four Notre Dame opponents also cracked Crawford's projected AP Top 25. Ohio State is ranked No. 2 here, Clemson is next at No. 5, BYU checks in at No. 15 and USC rounds things out at No. 16.
CFN ranked all 131 teams in its post-spring Top 25, with Notre Dame checking in at No. 7 in the rankings.
"There’s no honeymoon period here – Marcus Freeman has a bowl game under his belt, and he’s taking over a good enough team to be in the CFP hunt. The lines should be great and the offense – even with several new starters – has the upside to be more explosive." - CFN.com
#2 - Ohio State
#5 - Clemson
#12 - USC
#30 - BYU
#41 - North Carolina
#60 - Syracuse
#63 - Boston College
#64 - California
#68 - Stanford
#82 - Marshall
#91 - Navy
#106 - UNLV
Sports Illustrated hasn't updated its preseason Top 25 since January, but in that release it ranked Notre Dame ninth.
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