Can Notre Dame football meet high expectations?

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - APRIL 22: Head coach Marcus Freeman reacts during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Game at Notre Dame Stadium on April 22, 2023 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - APRIL 22: Head coach Marcus Freeman reacts during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Game at Notre Dame Stadium on April 22, 2023 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame football is coming into the 2023 season will high expectations. What are those expectations? To make it to the College Football Playoff or even reach the National Championship game.

The fighting Irish finished last year with a 9-4 record, winning 9 of their last 11. Notre Dame football beat South Carolina 45-38 in the Gator Bowl game. The conclusion of the 2022 season will carry momentum into this 2023 season.

Notre Dame got off to a slow start last season by losing the first two games of the season. The first game against Ohio State was a close one but they lost a heartbreaker.

As I look through their schedule, Notre Dame football has the chance to start the season 4-0. Their first four meetings are against teams such as Navy, Tennessee State, NC State, and Central Michigan. On paper, Notre Dame is better than those teams.

Notre Dame has a chance to get their revenge on Ohio State in Week 5. This time, they will be playing at home and the Buckeyes will have a new quarterback.

Notre Dame’s biggest challenges on their schedule are against Ohio State, USC, and Clemson. Those three teams can give Notre Dame some problems. However, Notre Dame is looking better than last season. Quarterback Sam Hartman transferred from Wake Forest to Notre Dame football in January. Hartman is coming off a historical season from a statistical standpoint.

Why the expectations are high for Notre Dame football

In 2022, he threw for 3,701 passings yards to go along with 38 touchdowns. He received honors such as the 2022 Brian Piccolo Award Winner, 2022 All-ACC Third Team, Gasparilla Bowl MVP, Manning Award Finalist, and many more. Hartman has thrown for the second-most yards in ACC history and his 12,967 career passing yards rank in the top 20 in FBS history.

Hartman comes to South Bend and brings leadership and a veteran to the team. Hartman is probably the best Notre Dame quarterback since Brady Quinn.

Notre Dame football hasn’t had a quarterback like him for a long time. Hartman could’ve gone to the NFL Draft but he still wants to prove himself and wants to finish his college career by winning the national title. Hartman will be entering his sixth year. This team goes as long as he performs.

Notre Dame has an elite offensive line. Hartman never had an offensive line like the one he will play for this season. You can say he had better receivers at Wake Forest, but he has a chance to build a connection and chemistry with guys like Tobias Merriweather and Chris Tyree. Merriweather is my pick to have a breakout season for Notre Dame. I think playing with Sam Hartman will elevate his game and his numbers will go up.

Notre Dame has strengths on offense, but their weakness is their defense. Head coach Marcus Freeman will need to come up with a strategy from a defensive standpoint.

Marcus Freeman is a young, energetic, and sensational recruiter. He believes in the system, he believes in the program, and believes in this team. Freeman is more passionate and more of an “All In” type of coach than Brian Kelly, his predecessor.

Although their defense is a little shaky and raises concerns, I have my eyes set on cornerback Benjamin Morrison. He is someone I’m hoping can lead the defense in his sophomore year. He caught fire during his freshman year, mostly because of his performance in November. In the last two months of the season, he became one of the best cornerbacks in the country, intercepting six passes. The six interceptions are the most for an Irish defender since 2012 (Manti Te’o). Morrison was named Freshman All-American.

Many people have Notre Dame winning at least eight or nine games this season. If Sam Hartman can stay healthy, I’m going with Notre Dame to win 10.

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The Fighting Irish will kick things off on August 26th against Navy, which will be played in Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame are heavily favorites to win that game but they can’t take their opponent lightly.