Remember the ice bucket challenge?
In the summer of 2014, a vir Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry shirt al fundraising effort for research into ALS took the country by storm and raised more than $15 million as people pledged money and dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads. While the momentary shock of the cold water took its toll, participants were happy to be helping the cause.
That sensation may be what awaits Notre Dame this season — a little cold reality mixed with excitement.
Optimism has been sky-high with the Irish faithful since Marcus Freeman was hired to fill the vacancy left by Brian Kelly’s exit to LSU. His players love him, the administration loves him, the fan base loves him, and most importantly, elite recruits seem to love him.
MORE: Hot seat coaches | 2022 SN Preseason All-America Team | Bowl projections
Freeman is recruiting at a level Notre Dame has not seen in the modern recruiting era. ND’s “transition” class was No. 7 by the 247 compos UNC vs. Duke Rivalry shirt ite in Febru Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry Jerseys ary (its best since 2013) and it sits No. 1 for the partial class of 2023 and No. 1 for the very partial class of 2024.
The Irish are ranked No. 5 in the preseason and have a potential first-round pick on offense (TE Michael Mayer) and defense (DE Isaiah Foskey).
Here comes the bucket of water.
Notre Dame opens at No. 2 Ohio State, which will trot out potentially the best offense of all time (no, really). Ohio State has almost inconceivably averaged more than 40 points and 500 yards per game for five straight seasons, and this may be its most talented unit yet. The Buckeyes are 15-point favorites.
BENDER: Why this Ohio State offense could be the best of all time
This game comes on the heels of Notre Dame allowing 605 yards and 37 points in the Fiesta Bowl t NCAA Nike College Sideline Gear o a pedestrian Oklahoma State offense led by a pedestrian quarterback. Notre Dame was run over in the second half after dominating early. Veteran coach Mike Gundy seemed to have all the answers against Freeman.
With the CFB world watching on Sept. 3, an 0-1 start to 2022 is likely. A 30-point blowout is a possibility.
A home date with a ferocious Clemson defense, a dicey neutral site matchup with a veteran BYU team and road trips to USC and North Carolina are also on the docket while Freeman tries to figure out how to become CEO on gameday.
But here comes the excitement.
MORE: Take the SN Transfer QB Quiz!
Even if this season doesn’t live up to the preseason No. 5 ranking, the Irish have to look no further than the defending national champions for a precedent. When Kirby Smart was hired to take over at Georgia, he set the recruiting trail ablaze. His transition class was ranked No. 6, followed by rankings of No. 3 and No. 1 in his first two classes. He was Kentucky vs. Louisville Rivalry Gear a young, energetic former defensive coordinator who was stockpiling talent at a blueblood program.
But that first season on the sideline? Oh, my. Smart’s home debut was a 26-24 come-from-behind win over Nichols State that was finally sealed when the Bulldogs converted a third-and-long inside their Bradley Braves shirt own 20 in the final two minutes. After a 31-point loss to Ole Miss, Georgia had a complete meltdown in the final seconds against Tennessee. An excessive celebration penalty after a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds left helped set up a Tennessee Hail Mary attempt, which Georgia failed to defend.
Smart’s next home game was a 17-16 loss to Vanderbilt in a game in which the Bulldogs outgained VU 421-171 and did not tu Air Force Falcons Jerseys rn the ball over. When the dust settled, a p Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry Gear reseason top 20 team limped off to the Liberty Bowl at 7-5 Cleveland State Vikings shirt and it was not clear whether Smart had the coaching intangibles to lead a top 10 program.
You know th Florida Gulf Coast Eagles shirt e rest. Georgia was in the national championship game a year later and has been a fixture in the national title picture ever since.
So if a little cold water comes down on Notre Dame this season, don’t count the Irish out. Good things could still be on the horizon.