Breaking down the Notre Dame football schedule: Big names and Big venues headline 2022
A new era of Notre Dame football is about to commence as first-year head coach Marcus Freeman leads the Irish into the 2022 season with big goals.
Many questions to answer ahead of fall camp and the primetime season opener at Ohio State on Sep. 3 in Columbus, Ohio. A new quarterback has to emerge. So does a new running back. Back are some important defensive pieces. Others were added via the transfer portal. All will be key to a successful year, which the Irish hope ends in a College Football Playoff berth for the second time in three seasons, and third in five.
ND Preview lineup and links:Everything you need to know about the 2022 Irish
Here's a look at Notre Dame's 2022 schedule ranked by matchup from bottom to top:
Oct. 22 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
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The Rebels aren't expected to provide much of a challenge on either side of the ball after a two-win season in which they ranked near the bottom of college football in scoring (20.8 points per game), rushing (109.8 yards per game), total offense (312.2 yards per game) and scoring defense (32.8 points per game). UNLV does return sophomore quarterback Cameron Friel, who won Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season. It also brought in Harrison Bailey, a sophomore quarterback transfer from Tennessee who showed promise in the SEC. UNLV also lost its leading tackler from last year, Jacoby Windmon, who transferred to Michigan State.
- Other players to watch: Doug Brumfield (RB), Kyle Williams (WR)
- Last year's record: 2-10 (2-6, Mountain West)
- Series history: No previous matchups
Sept. 10 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
The Thundering Herd were part of this year's conference realignment fiasco, moving from Conference USA into the Sun Belt. Marshall had one of the best offenses in college football last year, finishing 16th in total offense (456.8 yards per game). However, it will have to replace quarterback Grant Wells, who transferred to Virginia Tech. Known for their air threat, the Herd return last year's top rusher in Rasheen Ali, who recorded 1,401 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns last season.
- Other players to watch: Corey Gammage (WR), Henry Colombi (QB)
- Last year's record: 7-6 (5-3, C-USA)
- Series history: No previous matchups
Sept. 17 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
The Golden Bears will be bringing a young roster into their first game against Notre Dame in 55 years. They return only eight of 22 starters from a season ago, and will have to replace quarterback Chase Garber who threw for 50 career touchdowns. Cal's bright spot last year was its defense, which allowed only 22.2 points per game, good for 32nd in college football.
- Other players to watch: J. Michael Sturdivant (WR), Damien Moore (RB)
- Last year's record: 5-7 (4-5, PAC-12)
- Series history: 4-0, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 1967 (41-8, Notre Dame)
9. vs. Boston College
Nov. 19 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
This Senior Day matchup will mark the return of Phil Jurkovec. The former Irish quarterback will play his first game in South Bend since transferring to Boston College. Last season he threw for only seven touchdowns and 914 yards, dealing with a hand injury suffered early in the season. Another Notre Dame connection is former tight ends coach, John McNulty, who is now the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Boston College's defense could be an underrated group, returning seven starters from last season. It's not like Boston College hasn't broken Notre Dame hearts on senior day before. Anybody remember 1994?
- Other players to watch: Zay Flowers (WR), Pat Garwo III (RB)
- Last year's record: 6-6 (2-6, ACC)
- Series history: 16-9, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2020 (45-31, Notre Dame)
Oct. 29 at the JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers may be on his last chance after a disappointing 5-7 record a year ago. He returns one of college football's top running backs in Sean Tucker, who ran for 1,445 yards and 12 scores a season ago. This matchup comes right before Clemson's trip to South Bend, so the Irish may need to be extra focused because weird things happen in the JMA Wireless Dome (formerly the Carrier Dome).
- Other players to watch: Courtney Jackson (WR), Garrett Shrader (QB)
- Last year's record: 5-7 (2-6, ACC)
- Series history: 7-3, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2020 (45-21, Notre Dame)
Nov. 12 at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Navy's triple option didn't confuse many teams last season as the Midshipmen only scored 20.1 points per game (117th in CFB) and finished 126th in total offense (282.2 yards per game). This game comes in a tough final stretch of the season for Navy. Its trip to Baltimore to play Notre Dame comes right after a road game at Cincinnati and right before a road game at UCF, which is followed by its rivalry game against Army to close the season. The Irish, meanwhile, will be coming off one of its toughest matchups of the season against Clemson.
- Other players to watch: Tai Lavatai (QB), Kai Puailoa-Rojas (RB)
- Last year's record: 4-8 (3-5, American)
- Series history:78-13-1, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2021 (34-6, Notre Dame)
Oct. 15 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Stanford is in a bit of a slump after missing out on a bowl game for a third consecutive season. However, the Cardinal returns one of this year's top quarterback prospects in Tanner McKee, who threw for 2,327yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021. Stanford will need to find something in its run game, after recording only 89.6 rushing yards per game (126th in CFB) last season.
- Other players to watch: Elijah Higgins (WR), Benjamin Yurosek (TE)
- Last year's record: 3-9 (2-7, PAC-12)
- Series history: 21-13, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2021 (45-14, Notre Dame)
Oct. 8 at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
The Cougars are never a group to take lightly. Despite losing Zach Wilson to the NFL Draft, BYU won all five of its games against the PAC-12 last season, including conference champion, Utah. This year, the Cougars return 18 starters, eight on offense and 10 on defense, making for an interesting Shamrock Series matchup in Las Vegas.
- Other players to watch: Jaren Hall (QB), Puka Nacua (WR)
- Last year's record: 10-3
- Series history: 4-2, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2013 (23-13, Notre Dame...later vacated)
4. North Carolina
Sept. 24 at Keenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Sam Howell era in Chapel Hill is over. In steps Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye at quarterback. The duo will have a talented group of returning wideouts. The Tar Heels could have yet another explosive offense, returning their top-three receivers from last season, including Josh Downs, a touchdown-scoring threat every possession.
- Other players to watch: British Brooks (RB), D.J. Jones (WR)
- Last year's record: 6-7 (3-5, ACC)
- Series history: 20-1, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2021 (44-34, Notre Dame)
Nov. 26 at the Memorial Coliseum , Los Angeles
For the first time since 2010 both Notre Dame and USC will bring in new head coaches into this storied rivalry — Marcus Freeman and Lincoln Riley. The Trojans also brought in a new star quarterback in Oklahoma transfer Caleb Williams, who could also be a Heisman Trophy contender this season. USC's concerns remain on defense, where it returns one starter from a group that gave up over 400 yards per game in 2021.
- Other players to watch: Travis Dye (RB), Jordan Addison (WR)
- Last year's record: 4-8 (3-6, PAC-12)
- Series history: 48-36-5, Notre Dame
- Last meeting: 2021 (31-16, Notre Dame)
Nov. 5 at Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Clemson's last trip to South Bend in 2020 was an instant classic. This year's matchup could be another, even if the Tigers are coming off of a three-loss season. The Clemson quarterback in that double-overtime game, D.J. Uiagalelei, is back for his junior season, as is sophomore running back Will Shipley, who should form a strong backfield.
- Other players to watch: Kobe Pace (RB), Joseph Ngata (WR)
- Last year's record: 10-3 (6-2, ACC)
- Series history: 4-2, Clemson
- Last meeting: 2020 (34-10, Clemson in ACC Championship)
1. Ohio State
Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio.
The storylines for this opening game are endless. Two of college football's premiere programs at one of its grandest venues in the Horseshoe. Marcus Freeman beginning his first full season as head coach against his alma mater. College Gameday on site in Columbus. The Buckeyes return some stars, too in C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. What a tremendous way to begin the 2022 season.
- Other players to watch: Miyan Williams (RB), Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR)
- Last year's record: 11-2 (8-1, Big Ten)
- Series history: 4-2, Ohio State
- Last meeting: 2016 (44-28, Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl)
|Sept. 3||@ Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio||7:30 p.m. EST|
|Sept. 10||MARSHALL||South Bend, Ind.||2:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sept. 17||CALIFORNIA||South Bend, Ind.||2:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Sept. 24||@ North Carolina||Chapel Hill, N.C.||TBD|
|Oct. 8||vs. BYU||Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas||TBD|
|Oct. 15||STANFORD||South Bend, Ind.||7:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Oct. 22||UNLV||South Bend, Ind.||2:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Oct. 29||@ Syracuse||Syracuse, N.Y.||TBD|
|Nov. 5||CLEMSON||South Bend, Ind.||7:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Nov. 12||vs. Navy||M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore||Noon|
|Nov. 19||BOSTON COLLEGE||South Bend, Ind.||2:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Nov. 26||@ Southern Cal||Los Angeles||TBD|