Marcus Freeman and the Irish have a tremendous opportunity to make the College Football Playoffs this upcoming season. The program will seek its 3rd appearance overall and first with Coach Freeman. With the addition of Sam Hartman, the Irish have a chance to be one of the best teams in the country. Notre Dame will certainly need the experience of the ACC’s all-time passing touchdowns leader to make it back to the playoffs. With the official 2023 Notre Dame football schedule released, here’s a quick look at every game.
Navy (Dublin, Ireland), August 26th
Notre Dame kicks off the 2022 season in Ireland, where they will once again face their longtime rival, Navy. The Midshipmen will now be led by former defensive coordinator Brian Newberry who was promoted to head coach.
Last season, the Irish survived a late comeback for a 35 to 32 victory over Navy. This will be the first time Notre Dame fans see Sam Hartman in action, and it will be necessary not to overlook the Midshipmen this time.
Tennessee State, September 2nd
The Fighting Irish will lose their historic streak of only facing FBS opponents when Head Coach Eddie George and Tennessee State visit South Bend. The Tigers went 4-7 in the FCS in 2022, including a 16 to 3 loss to Jackson State.
I am not here to write about Notre Dame losing its streak of FBS opponents. The Irish just need to take care of business. The Irish have enough top-tier teams on their 2023 schedule to make the playoffs.
At NC State, September 9th
Notre Dame will travel back to Raleigh for the first time since the monsoon of the 2016 season. The NC State Wolfpack were ranked the entire season last year and climbed as high as #10 in the polls.
NC State finished the season 8-5 with a loss to Maryland in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. However, Wolfpack fans will be eager to upset the Irish on the road, and they have a capable team.
Central Michigan, September 16th
The Chippewas from the MAC will come to South Bend in September for the first time in program history. Central Michigan finished last season 4-8, and this matchup will be the final test for Coach Freeman before the highly anticipated rematch with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Notre Dame must put Central Michigan away early and not overlook the Chippewas before the massive game the following week.
Ohio State, September 23rd
The Buckeyes are coming off an 11-2 season with a historic game against Georgia in the College Football Playoff Semi-Finals. I believe the Peach Bowl was essentially the National Title, and the winner of that game would defeat TCU in the actual championship matchup (I hope I am wrong).
A win in this matchup would be one of the most significant victories for Notre Dame Football this century. The challenge will be difficult, but if Jim Harbaugh and Michigan can knock off the Buckeyes in back-to-back seasons, there is no reason Coach Freeman cannot pull off this upset in South Bend.
At Duke, September 30th
Former Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Mike Elko had a tremendous year for the Duke Blue Devils in 2022 with a 9-4 record and a Military Bowl victory over UCF. He is a defensive-minded and turnover-oriented football coach. This could be a tough showdown on the road.
At Louisville, October 7th
Former Louisville Quarterback Jeff Brohm is back as the Cardinals’ Head Coach. He will be with transfer quarterback Jack Plummer who he coached at Purdue. Plummer faced the Irish in 2021 (at Purdue) and 2022 (at California) and will likely be the starter in 2023 at Louisville.
Coach Brohm is known for trick plays, pass-first offenses, and an excellent football mind overall. This could be a tough road test for Notre Dame.
USC, October 14th
The rivalry is undoubtedly back, as the Trojans knocked off Notre Dame 38 to 27 in November. Caleb Williams wrote a derogatory statement to the Irish on his fingernails to add fuel to the fire, which fans and players should take personally in this year’s matchup.
Lincoln Riley is known for a high-powered offense, while the Irish are known for physicality in the trenches. Last year, USC outplayed Notre Dame, and this time around, the Trojans visit South Bend. This will be one of the top matchups in the 2023 football calendar.
Pittsburgh, October 28th
Pat Narduzzi is hungry for a victory against the Irish. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh always plays Notre Dame better in South Bend. The Panthers always scare me when they face the Irish on the road.
The Fighting Irish may face former quarterback Phil Jurkovec in this matchup as he transferred to Pittsburgh in the offseason. For those who do not know, the former Notre Dame Quarterback had some salty posts on social media regarding Irish football traditions that seemed uncalled for and did not sit well with the South Bend community.
At Clemson, November 4th
The schedule gets more challenging as Notre Dame visits the Clemson Tigers late in the season. Clemson has yet to have the national championship caliber team most expect the past several years, but they finished a respectable 11-3 and still won the ACC Championship. The Tigers also bring back a solid young quarterback in Cade Klubnik.
If the Irish are undefeated at this point or even have a quality record, one can expect Memorial Stadium to be rocking when the Irish visit late in the season.
Wake Forest, November 18th
On October 28th, Sam Hartman will be squaring off against his former team. Wake Forest finished 8-5 last fall with a signature victory over Missouri in their bowl matchup.
The Demon Deacons will have revenge on their mind and hope to beat the Irish for the first time in program history.
At Stanford, November 25th
Stanford will be without Head Coach David Shaw for the first time since 2010. It is too early to tell whether that will be better or worse for Notre Dame. The Cardinal have always been a thorn in the side of the Fighting Irish. Even when the Irish are favored, the upset-minded Cardinal always find ways to win.
After a 16 to 14 upset in South Bend last season, Marcus Freeman must be prepared for Stanford to close the 2023 calendar.
With the addition of Sam Hartman, the 2023 Notre Dame Football schedule will be exhilarating. He is the best quarterback in South Bend since Brady Quinn. In addition, coach Freeman finished with a top-10 recruiting class and has added several vital transfers this offseason. As a result, the future looks bright in South Bend, and the schedule will provide excellent matchups.
The Fighting Irish had one of the most demanding schedules in the country last fall, and this season will be no different. Notre Dame will face competition that will prepare them for the playoffs. If Marcus Freeman and the Irish can navigate this schedule and remain undefeated or suffer only one loss, they will be in a tremendous position to make the 2023 playoffs.