The 2022 calendar year was quite the up-and-down affair for Notre Dame, but the year ended in the exact opposite way it finished, and it showed the program’s growth over the last year.
Notre Dame’s 2022 began with the Irish coming out on fire against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Irish jumped out to a 28-7 lead against the Cowboys and it appeared the Marcus Freeman era was going to kick off in incredibly impressive fashion.
Instead, the Cowboys rallied for a 37-35 victory, and the game could have been even worse. If Isaiah Foskey doesn’t force a fourth quarter turnover the Cowboys were ready to break that game open even more.
After a wildly up-and-down 2022 regular season, which had huge wins over Clemson and North Carolina to go with ugly losses to Marshall and Stanford, Notre Dame needed a strong finish to the season to go into 2023 with some much-needed momentum.
It didn’t look like we would get that after the first quarter. South Carolina racked up 154 yards and led 21-7 after just 15 minutes of play. The Gamecocks were aggressive, used trick plays, and the Irish had a tough time handling the tempo and energy of the game. It appeared Notre Dame was on the verge of yet another embarrassing postseason loss.
But the bowl game against South Carolina proved to be a microcosm of the entire 2022 season. At times Notre Dame was dreadful, as we saw against Marshall, Stanford and even occasionally in wins. At times the Irish looked like the team that was ranked in the preseason Top 10, and that it could rip up good football teams. This team was never consistent, but all season they showed they were resilient. It showed it was not a team that was going to quit, not matter the adversity it was facing.
Notre Dame responded with a methodical 12-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a field goal. The Irish were still down 11, but the drive slowed the game down, but quarterback Tyler Buchner, who was coming off throwing a pick six, completed a pair of third-down throws to keep the drive alive and used his legs to get the offense rolling. He wasn’t going to let his mistake drag him down further.
Notre Dame clawed back into the game, tying it in the third quarter at 24 apiece, only to fall behind again 31-24 after the defense allowed South Carolina to score on just five plays. Then Buchner threw his second interception of the game and it appeared South Carolina had gained back all the momentum. The Irish defense, which had struggled mightily up to that point, responded back-to-back stops to keep the team in the game.
The second stop gave the Irish great field position, and Buchner responded with a 44-yard touchdown pass on a bomb to Braden Lenzy. Speaking of overcoming adversity, Lenzy had been open on routes like this all season, but the ball never came his way. Lenzy never complained, he kept a positive attitude, he continued to play hard, and when the ball FINALLY came his way in that situation he was ready to make a game-changing play.
That is when Notre Dame appeared to take the game over. Freeman gave special teams coordinator Brian Mason the okay to run a trick play on fourth down at their own 33-yard line that set up a 39-yard run by Logan Diggs.
It was yet another great response from a unit whose earlier blunder allowed South Carolina on a fake field goal.
With Notre Dame sitting at first-and-goal at the 7-yard line, ready to blow the game open, Buchner was picked yet again and the Gamecocks got their second pick six of the game. All the momentum the Irish had disappeared in the blink of an eye.
But this Notre Dame was not going to be rattled by that moment. Buchner showed he was not going to be rattled.
Scroll to Continue
Notre Dame’s response won the game. Instead of letting the mistake get in their head, the Irish offense came right back with a 12-ply, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with Buchner hitting a wide open Mitchell Evans for a touchdown. Notre Dame converted two more third downs on that five before scoring on another third down.
The Irish defense made one more stop as the Irish ended with a hard fought victory.
It wasn’t a pretty win. It wasn’t a clean win by any stretch. All three phases had huge, huge blunders in the game. But it was a win, and it was a resilient win that was fitting of this 2022 football team. It was also a win that exorcised the start of the season by looking a big deficient right in the face and saying, “Sorry, not today, we’re Notre Dame, and you’re not.”
Irish Breakdown Fans be sure to get your Notre Dame tickets from SI Tickets HERE
Be sure to check out the Irish Breakdown message board, the Champions Lounge
Irish Breakdown Content
Notre Dame 2022 Roster
Notre Dame 2022 Schedule
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content and our premium message board! Click on the link below for more.
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Follow me on Gettr: @IrishBreakdown
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook