40 Preseason Predictions Revisited, part II: Notre Dame’s upset losses should have been expected from a first-year head coach
To continue a final look back at Notre Dame’s 2022 season through the lens of preseason predictions and the expectations they framed …
11) The most underappreciated part of the Irish resurgence since 2017 and thus Brian Kelly’s final years coaching in South Bend was that Notre Dame won 42 straight games against unranked opponents, the longest streak in the country. It was so taken for granted, this prediction thought the Irish would run that to 50 games in 2023.
Instead, Marcus Freeman lost his very first game against an unranked opponent. (8 correct predictions out of 11.)
12) A few predictions always delve out of college football, for variety’s sake. Maybe that should be forgotten moving forward, considering the Packers neither beat the Vikings to open the season nor won the NFC North. To make matters even worse for this scribe of a lapsed Packers fan, they also were not bad enough to draft a good quarterback in 2023. (8 out of 12.)
13) North Carolina leaned on dynamic receiver Josh Downs to prodigious amounts in 2021. An early-season injury slowed him this year, thus ruining any chance of him having “the most catches in a game against the Irish this season, though not the most yards.”
He caught five passes for 32 yards.
Ohio State receiver Emeka Egbuka set the catches mark with nine for 90 yards to open the season, while BYU’s Kody Epps caught four passes for 100 yards, the season high in yardage against Notre Dame. (8/13)
14) Notre Dame played a multiple-look defense this season, a layup of a prediction given the linebacker depth and versatility led by Jack Kiser and (eventually injured) Bo Bauer. That was emphasized at USC when the Irish leaned into a 3-3-5 look without both cornerback Cam Hart and nickel back TaRiq Bracy. Kiser’s speed became the defense’s best chance.
It was not enough, but it was a valiant effort, and one to keep in mind in 2023. (9/14)
15) “The math says at least one Irish player will be ejected for targeting in 2022.”
Enter JD Bertrand, twice. (10/15)
16) “Notre Dame will beat BYU in Las Vegas.”
Despite a lackluster second-half, check.
“... This space will miss at least one day of publishing the following week. Who can say why.”
Let’s check the running content calendar. For Tuesday, Oct. 11, it reads, “Vegas won this round.” Sometimes it is best to foresee your own personal failures. (11/16)
17) Marcus Freeman’s recruiting emphasis never waned, underscored by the last two years of recruiting topping anything the Irish have ever done. (12/17)
18) The only area in which Michael Mayer fell short in his Notre Dame career was of this prediction, one saying he would casually break two of his own three Irish single-season records. To do so, he needed to exceed 71 catches, 840 receiving yards and/or seven touchdowns.
The surefire first-round draft pick merely caught 67 passes for 809 yards and nine scores.
Would he have reached all three metrics if he played in the Gator Bowl? Almost assuredly. But then again, he played in only 12 games in 2021, too. The prediction was wrong, regardless. (12/18)
19) Another thought about an individual record, defensive end Isaiah Foskey did not exceed Justin Tuck’s record of 13.5 sacks in a season. He did take down the quarterback 11 times, reaching double digits for a second consecutive season while setting the Notre Dame career mark. (12/19)
A cynic (me): Isaiah Foskey needed four years to get to 26.5 sacks. Justin Tuck needed only three.— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) December 9, 2022
Me, looking at their careers: Eh, were Foskey's first four games really chances for sacks? If not ...
Tuck: 0.68 sacks per game
20) Similar to prediction No. 11, an underappreciated part of Kelly’s final five years in South Bend were that the Irish won 39 straight games when favored at kickoff, covering all of the 2018-21 seasons.
Both to suggest that would continue and to guess how many times Notre Dame would be favored in 2022, arguing that streak would reach 48 was right in that the Irish were favored in nine of 13 games. They just happened to lose the first of those (and then again against Stanford, the fourth time they would be favored this season).
Such blunders should have been expected from a first-year head coach. Those missteps seem to catch just about every such rookie. But forgetting or overlooking that led to dashed expectations in 2022. (12/20)