The preseason coaches poll has been out for four days now and it’s causing some controversy. Head Coach Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were ranked fifth to kickoff the 2022 season. This ranking marks the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since they ranked third in 2006. It also marks the fourth straight year being ranked within the top 10, which is their best streak since eight straight from 1989-1996. They ranked 10 in 2021, six in 2020, and ranked nine in 2019.
There have been fans sharing their thoughts about such a high ranking for this Irish program despite several drastic losses. This season, the Irish will be attempting to fill in for the loss of four key components on both sides of the ball. The loss of Jack Coan (QB), Kyren Williams (RB), Kyle Hamilton (S), and Brian Kelly (HC) left a hole in the team.
The QB battle between Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne leave the offense in the hands of two inexperienced quarterbacks. Transfer All-American Brandon Joseph is possibly as good as one can get at the Safety position, but can he fill the shoes of the AFCA First-Team All-American? Filling the shoes of last season’s 1,000+ yard rusher will likely be a battle between returning Sophomore Logan Diggs and Junior Chris Tyree. The offensive genius of Coach Brian Kelly is being left to defensive coordinator (now head coach) Marcus Freeman. Overall, people are skeptical of whether those filling vacant positions can produce at the same level as those who filled the roles the season before. Without production from these key positions, it’s doubtful the Irish will remain in the power five for long.
Last season, the Irish finished at number eight on the AP Poll, finishing 11-1 on the 2021-2022 season. Their only loss during the season came to a talented Cincinnati team who started the season ranked number eight. This same team ended the season in the top four. This year, the Bearcats find themselves ranked in the top 25 at the start of the season.
College football fans have criticized Notre Dame for their strength of schedule (or lack thereof) for years. This year, Notre Dame plays three teams ranked in the top 25; two of which are ranked in the top four. The Fighting Irish start off their season against Ohio State (2) on September 3rd. Eight weeks later, they continue their revenge tour, matching up against the Clemson Tigers (4). To cap off their season, the Irish will go head to head against long time rival, USC (15). Based on this year’s schedule, will Notre Dame earn a spot in the New Years Six at the end of the season?
Notre Dame will take the field against the Ohio State Buckeyes in just 22 days.