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Leftovers & Links: Opening 2023 title odds paint similar picture for Notre Dame next season

Notre Dame football head coach Marcus Freeman joins the 2023 All-American Bowl to reflect on his experience as a high school All-American and discusses his new recruiting class.

The chronological order of Notre Dame’s 2023 schedule may not be set yet — waiting on you, ACC, expected later this month — but the order of stressors will be very similar to this past season. The first 2023 national championship odds came moments after Georgia finished its title defense late Monday night, and more than any top-25 rankings heading into the season, those odds make it clear who the expected challenges will be next season.

Marcus Freeman’s second year as a head coach will be defined by the same three games that were expected to define his debut campaign before Marshall and Stanford had other ideas.

Using BetMGM’s initial odds as a reference point, Ohio State should once again be a distinct Playoff favorite, despite needing to replace star quarterback CJ Stroud, and USC is tied with Alabama for the third-best odds to win the title. Next season, Freeman at least gets to face those two powers at Notre Dame Stadium.

Despite its second straight “disappointing” season, Clemson is the sixth team slotted in these future odds at 15-to-1. The Irish fit into the next wave at 20-to-1, though other books opened with Notre Dame has high as 50-to-1.

For context, the Irish were about 30-to-1 entering the 2022 season, a far more accurate depiction of the expectations in Freeman’s first year than the preseason No. 5 ranking.

BetMGM’s odds:
Georgia +300Ohio State +600Alabama +700USC +700Michigan +1000Clemson +1500Texas +2000Penn State +2000LSU+2000Notre Dame +2000Florida State +2500

What has Clemson still so respected despite losing six games across the last two years? Well, first of all, going 10-3 and 11-3 in back-to-back seasons is hardly a sign of widespread trouble. Secondly, while Florida State improved by leaps and bounds in 2022, North Carolina will be dangerous with Drake Maye in his final season, and North Carolina State may have an explosive offense led by Brennan Armstrong, the reality is that the ACC still trails the Tigers in most ways.

Lastly, Clemson may have its next great quarterback in rising sophomore Cade Klubnik, one of three notable Heisman favorites the Irish will face. Of course, they are the three quarterbacks of those title contenders. (Kyle McCord is expected to be the next Buckeyes starting quarterback.)

The difference between 2022 and 2023 is Notre Dame will have a quarterback in the Heisman mix, as well, at least to start the season. Even though he missed the first game of 2022 with a health worry, Sam Hartman’s Heisman odds were always on par or ahead of Drew Pyne’s and Tyler Buchner’s in 2022.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Irish should have top-flight quarterback play in 2023, but their season will again hinge on how they fare vs. Ohio State (Sept. 23), vs. USC (Oct. 14) and at Clemson (Nov. 4).

The rising senior long snapper reportedly entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, the fourth Notre Dame player to do so since the season ended. In Peitsch’s case, it is rather understandable.

When he committed to the Irish in April of 2019, it was expected he would preserve eligibiltiy for one season while John Shannon wrapped up his career before taking over the long-snapper duties. Instead, Shannon retired and … Peitsch has yet to handle the long-snapping duties. He appeared in one game of 2020 and 2021. He did not play in 2022.

Former walk-on Michael Vinson beat out Peitsch for the role. Initially, that seemed like a temporary solution, filling in for 2020 before yielding to Peitsch as roughly planned all along, maybe holding onto the gig for an extra season in 2021. Then Vinson was offered a scholarship in 2022. And now he is returning for a pandemic waiver-allowed sixth year in 2023.

By now, Peitsch expected to have played three seasons. He has effectively played none and has three seasons of eligibility remaining. With Vinson manning long snaps at Notre Dame again in 2023, finding some playing time elsewhere only makes sense.

For the Irish, it means they likely will burn a scholarship in the class of 2024 on a long snapper or find one in the transfer portal next winter.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper

For anyone who remains convinced players opting out of bowl games are disrespecting their coaches, giving up on their teammates or otherwise compromising their character, please take note of how little the Irish seemed bothered by Mayer not playing in the Gator Bowl. Rather clearly, his peers supported him.

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