Seeing into the future: Our experts predict what will Notre Dame accomplish in 2022

Michael Wanbaugh
South Bend Tribune

We asked our experts to weigh in on the 2022 season for Notre Dame football. Here are their predictions on breakout players, surprises, the record and more.

MIKE BERARDINO

Notre Dame football beat writer

Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for the South Bend Tribune and NDInsider.com

Where's (Isaiah) Foskey?Star pass rusher stays on the move

REGULAR-SEASON RECORD: 9-3

POSTSEASON GAME AND OPPONENT: Orange Bowl vs. Miami (Fla.)

FINAL CFP RANKING: 12

FAN BASE GRACE PERIOD FOR MARCUS FREEMAN: Halftime in Columbus

OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE MVPS: TE Michael Mayer/DE Isaiah Foskey

THREE BREAKTHROUGH PLAYERS: DL Rylie Mills, RB Audric Estime, WR Deion Colzie

FRESHMAN SURPRISE: CB Jaden Mickey

ND’S STARTING QB FOR ITS REGULAR-SEASON FINALE, AT USC: Tyler Buchner

ND’S NATIONAL RANKING IN TOTAL DEFENSE AND OFFENSE AT SEASON’S END: 24/40

LEADING IRISH RECEIVER AT SEASON’S END AND TOTAL RECEPTIONS: Michael Mayer/87

SACK LEADER AND TOTAL NUMBER OF SACKS BY ND AS A TEAM: Foskey/36

BEST MATCHUP: Foskey vs. Ohio State LT Paris Johnson Jr.

TRAP GAME: Boston College

BEST PLAYER ND WILL FACE IN 2022: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State QB

MOST OVERPLAYED, OVERDONE ANGLE ON ND’S 2022 SEASON: Personality difference between Marcus Freeman and Brian Kelly.

MOST COMPELLING STORYLINE OF THE SEASON: Michael Mayer’s Heisman campaign.

FOUR-TEAM FIELD IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF:  Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson.

AND ANOTHER THING ..: Playing BYU in Vegas is still weird.

WAY TOO EARLY ... NOTRE DAME'S 2023 PRESEASON RANKING: 6

TOM NOIE

South Bend Tribune Sports Columnist

ND Insider columnist Tom Noie

Analysis: Can those feel-good vibes of Notre Dame's offseason roll into 2022 regular season?

REGULAR-SEASON RECORD: 11-1

POSTSEASON GAME AND OPPONENT: No. 4 seed Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Alabama (oh, boy), in Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. New Year's Eve in the ATL....watch out!

FINAL CFP RANKING: 4

FAN BASE GRACE PERIOD FOR MARCUS FREEMAN: Four hours (or however long the Ohio State opener lasts).

OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE MVPS: TE Michael Mayer and DE Isaiah Foskey

THREE BREAKTHROUGH PLAYERS: QB Tyler Buchner, LB Marist Liufau and DL Rylie Mills

FRESHMAN SURPRISE: WR Tobias Merriweather

ND’S STARTING QB FOR ITS REGULAR-SEASON FINALE, AT USC: Tyler Buchner. Or Drew Pyne. Or Tyler Pyne. Or Drew Buchner. Pretty sure it will be one of those four.

Bob ChmielFormer Notre Dame football recruiting coordinator on TUFF program

ND’S NATIONAL RANKING IN TOTAL DEFENSE AND OFFENSE AT SEASON’S END: 40/40 (how's that for consistency?)

LEADING IRISH RECEIVER AT SEASON’S END AND TOTAL RECEPTIONS: Michael Mayer ― a lot of receptions for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns. OK, how about 90 catches for over 1,000 yards and 10 scores.

SACK LEADER AND TOTAL NUMBER OF SACKS BY ND AS A TEAM: Isaiah Foskey (10), one fewer than last year for a team that gets 42 ― one more than last year.

BEST MATCHUP: It won't get any better than facing Ohio State on the road on a late summer Saturday night. Unless, of course, Notre Dame and USC are both undefeated heading into the season finale in Los Angeles. And, oh yeah, Notre Dame is going to Las Vegas this year too. Let's just say there's many a must-see matchup.

TRAP GAME: Boston College on Senior Day. If Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec is healthy, watch out. 

BEST PLAYER ND WILL FACE IN 2022: Ohio State wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba (duh), or maybe Isaiah Foskey and Michael Mayer every day in practice.

MOST OVERPLAYED, OVERDONE ANGLE ON ND’S 2022 SEASON: Marcus Freeman is going to succeed because he is a waaaaaaaaaaay better recruiter than Brian Kelly.

MOST COMPELLING STORYLINE OF THE SEASON: What can this Notre Dame football program be/become under Marcus Freeman.

FOUR-TEAM FIELD IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF:  Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame (how's that for right down the middle of the fairway?)

WAY TOO EARLY ― NOTRE DAME'S 2023 PRESEASON RANKING: 5.

Justin Frommer

South Bend Tribune Sportswriter

Justin Frommer on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in South Bend.

Grabbing the reins:Chris Tyree ready to take control of Notre Dame’s running back room

REGULAR-SEASON RECORD: 10-2 (losses at Ohio State and at USC)

POSTSEASON GAME AND OPPONENT: Orange Bowl vs. N.C. State

FINAL CFP RANKING: No. 9

FAN BASE GRACE PERIOD FOR MARCUS FREEMAN: Three games. As long as there aren't multiple unexpected losses

OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE MVPS: TE Michael Mayer and DE Isaiah Foskey

THREE BREAKTHROUGH PLAYERS: WR Lorenzo Styles, RB Audric Estime and DL Rylie Mills

FRESHMAN SURPRISE: WR Tobias Merriweather

ND’S STARTING QB FOR ITS REGULAR-SEASON FINALE, AT USC: Tyler Buchner

ND’S NATIONAL RANKING IN TOTAL DEFENSE AND OFFENSE AT SEASON’S END: 38th defensively and 50th offensively

LEADING IRISH RECEIVER AT SEASON’S END AND TOTAL RECEPTIONS: WR Lorenzo Styles, 40 total receptions

SACK LEADER AND TOTAL NUMBER OF SACKS BY ND AS A TEAM: Isaiah Foskey, 37 team sacks

BEST MATCHUP: At Ohio State (Sept. 3). Two of college football's biggest brands on one of the sport's biggest stages, The Horseshoe in Columbus.

TRAP GAME: Oct. 29 at Syracuse. Big game vs. Clemson the next week and weird things happen in The JMA Wireless Dome (formely The Carrier Dome)

BEST PLAYER ND WILL FACE IN 2022: Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud

MOST OVERPLAYED, OVERDONE ANGLE ON ND’S 2022 SEASON: Transfer All-American safety Brandon Joseph replacing first-round NFL pick Kyle Hamilton

MOST COMPELLING STORYLINE OF THE SEASON: First time a Notre Dame-USC matchup will feature two new head coaches (Marcus Freeman vs. Lincoln Riley) since 2010 (Brian Kelly vs. Lane Kiffin)

FOUR-TEAM FIELD IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma 

WAY TOO EARLY NOTRE DAME'S 2023 PRESEASON RANKING: No. 8