Notre Dame Showed Its Growth And Resiliency By Ending 2022 The Exact Opposite Way It Started
Although the 2022 calendar year was a turbulent one for Notre Dame it ended in the exact opposite direction. It showed the program’s growth in the last year.
Notre Dame’s 2022 season began with the Irish setting ablaze Oklahoma State in Fiesta Bowl. The Irish led 28-7 against the Cowboys, and it looked like the Irish would win. Marcus Freeman The era was set to begin in an incredible fashion.
The Cowboys won the game with a victory of 37-35. It could have been worse. The Cowboys could have broken the game open more if Isaiah Foskey didn’t force a fourth-quarter turnover.
Notre Dame needed a strong season to end its 2022 regular season. It had big wins over Clemson, North Carolina, and Stanford. However, it also suffered ugly losses to Marshall, Stanford, and Stanford.
After the first quarter, it didn’t look like we’d get there. After just 15 minutes, South Carolina had racked up 154 yards to lead 21-7. The Gamecocks were aggressive and used tricks plays. The Irish struggled to keep up with the high energy and tempo of the game. It looked like Notre Dame was about to lose yet another embarrassing postseason game.
The bowl game against South Carolina was a microcosm for the entire 2022 season. Notre Dame was at times terrible, as we saw against Marshall and Stanford, and sometimes even in wins. The Irish looked at times like a team that was ranked in preseason Top 10 and could easily rip apart good football teams. Although they were not consistent, they displayed resilience throughout the season. It proved that they were not going to give up, no matter what the adversity.
Notre Dame responded with a meticulous 12-play, 56-yard drive that culminated with a field goal. Although the Irish were still down 11 points, the drive slowed down the game and ended with a field goal. Tyler BuchnerHe was just coming off a pick six and completed two third-down throws to keep it alive. He also used his legs to get the offense moving. He was not going to let his error get him down any further.
Notre Dame pulled back into the game and tied it at 24 apiece in the third quarter. But, South Carolina fell behind again at 31-24 after South Carolina’s defense allowed them to score on only five plays. Buchner threw the second interception of game, and South Carolina seemed to have regained all momentum. The Irish defense, which had struggled tremendously up until that point, responded back to back stops to keep the team alive.
Buchner responded to the Irish’s second stop with a 44-yard touchdown on a bomb to Buchner Braden Lenzy. Lenzy was open to such routes all season. However, the ball never came his direction. Lenzy never complained. He kept a positive attitude and continued to play hard. When the ball finally came his way, he was ready for a game-changing move.
This is when Notre Dame took the game to overtime. Freeman allowed special teams coordinator Brian Mason to run a trick play at their 33-yard line on fourth down. This set up a 39 yard run by Logan Diggs.
It was another great response by a unit that allowed South Carolina to score a fake field goal earlier in the year.
Buchner was again picked by the Gamecocks and they got their second pick six in the game. Notre Dame was sitting at the 7-yard-line, ready to blow the game wide open. In a flash, all the momentum for the Irish was gone.
This Notre Dame was not going be shaken by that moment. Buchner proved that he was not going be rattled.
Notre Dame’s response won them the game. The Irish offense didn’t let the mistake get in the way. Instead, they responded with a 12-ply, 80 yard touchdown drive that ended with Buchner scoring wide open. Mitchell Evans For a touchdown. Notre Dame converted two third downs on the five before scoring another touchdown.
The Irish defense came to an end with a hard-fought victory.
It was not a pretty win. It was not a clean win. All three phases made huge, costly mistakes in the game. It was a win and it was a resilient win that was appropriate for this 2022 football team. It was also a win which exorcised the start to the season by looking a big problem right in the face, and saying, “Sorry. Not today, we’re Notre Dame. And you’re not.”
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.