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A Way-Too-Early Look at the 2024 Season: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Connor Regan|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @thatconnorregan

Photo by The Irish Tribune


As we conclude the 2023 season, the collective Notre Dame fanbase turns its eyes yet again toward the promise of the future. Although far away, the 2024 season is beginning to take shape, and the Irish find themselves in a familiar position, on the verge of finally taking the football program from a 1-B institution to a 1-A powerhouse. 


2023 - A Review

Before the start of the 2023 season, Notre Dame was brimming with anticipation, primarily due to the impending arrival of 6th-year QB Sam Hartman. Upon the departure of Tommy Rees for Alabama, Notre Dame promoted then-TE coach Gerad Parker to Offensive Coordinator. Although an unknown at the time, this promotion provided some reason for caution due to Parker's lack of OC experience, with only 1 year of prior OC experience. Adding to these concerns was a schedule that ranked 19th in preseason strength of schedule, including a 4-game stretch that of Ohio State, at Duke, at Louisville, and USC, capping things off with a week-10 matchup at Clemson. 


Most preseason prognosticators pegged the Irish to finish with a floor of 9-3, with some believing a 10-2 finish was possible. All these predictions aside, Notre Dame's CFP hopes were dashed relatively early. Despite a heartbreaking week 4 loss to then #6 Ohio State 14-17, Notre Dame's CFP hopes were still alive, as long as they won out alongside Ohio State. These hopes remained intact through a close win over Duke until Louisville ultimately upset the Irish in week 6, 33-20. Louisville entered the matchup undefeated, yet the Irish were favored by 6.5 and were expected to make relatively easy work of the Cardinals. This loss became Marcus Freeman's 3rd loss to an opponent they were favored to beat in his first two seasons, with losses to Marshall and Stanford in 2022. 


With 2 losses already, Notre Dame's CFP hopes were gone, and winning out became the only attainable goal for 2023. Then came Clemson. The Irish fell to Dabo Swinney's Tigers 23-31, marking their 3rd loss of the season, their 2nd loss to a team they were favored to beat, and their first to an unranked opponent. Losing to Clemson became the worst of the 3 regular season losses and spelled legitimate disappointment for the 2023 squad. Although the Irish won out, they finished 16th in the country and secured a matchup against Oregon State in the "Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl."





The Sun Bowl

The Irish flat-out dominated Oregon State in the "Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl" on Friday. This was only the 3rd matchup between the two schools, and Notre Dame's 40-8 route marked their first win in the series. Due to NFL draft declarations and numerous transfers, Marcus Freeman's biggest obstacle heading into the matchup was preparing an inexperienced starting squad, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Impressively, the new faces showed out.


The Irish dominated the 1st half, forcing 3 straight punts from the Beavers and a 1st drive of 11 plays 96 yards. That first drive was highlighted by a 55-yard catch by Jordan Faison and ultimately finished off by an 8-yard TD catch by the fully healthy Jayden Thomas. After another 11-play drive and a 4th down conversion, the Irish missed a 50-yard FG, possibly due to a laces-facing football for Spencer Shrader. The Irish then stopped a fake punt and capitalized with a 7 play drive for a touchdown. The end of the first half came on a Hail Mary toss from Oregon State that was intercepted by Benjamin Morrison.


The one-sided affair continued in the second half, with the Irish quickly kicking a field goal and forcing another Oregon State punt. Angeli led the offense on an 8-play 60-yard drive, culminating in a 13-yard TD pass to freshman walk-on phenom Jordan Faison. After forcing an Oregon State turnover on downs, the Irish were stopped on a very close rushing play at Oregon State's 1-yard line. Although disappointing, the Irish defense quickly capitalized on the turnover and forced a safety, putting the Irish up 26-0. After receiving the safety punt, Jadarian Price broke off a 54-yard rush that nearly scored, and Angeli eventually tossed a 13-yard TD pass to Jeremiyah Love, extending the lead to 33-0. Oregon State scored their first and only touchdown on a 33-yard pass and then converted a 2-point conversion to bring the score to 33-8. Kenny Minchey took over the offense on Notre Dame's final drive and led a 6-play 40-yard drive, capped off by senior running back Chase Ketterer's 6-yard score.


Steve Angeli impressed in his first official start, tossing 3 TDs for 232 yards through the air and 27 yards on the ground. Although Riley Leonard is expected to get the starting spot in 2024, Angeli inspired quite a bit of confidence through his Sun Bowl performance and likely cemented his role as the standout backup QB should he decide to stick around. Leonard's history of injury presents a distinct possibility that we may see a backup at some point in 2024, and finally seeing an Angeli start provides a sense of comfort. Angeli kept the Irish in control of the game, holding the ball more than twice as long as the Beavers, notching 40:11 to Oregon State's 19:49. 


Gino Guidugli headed the offense at the OC position for the first time with the Irish, and he leaned heavily on the run game, with 19 pass attempts to 48 rushes, including Angeli's 8 scrambles. With Audric Estime heading to the NFL, Freeman and his staff were looking for who would step up in his absence, and it seems they have an answer: Jadarian Price. Price led the backfield with 13 rushes for 106 yards and 1 TD, with 1 breakout run for 54 yards. Jeremiyah Love had a bit of an off night, recording 15 rushes for only 39 yards, but managed to grab a 13-yard receiving TD. Gi'Bran Payne rounded out the backfield with 6 rushes for 24 yards.


The receiving room has seen a lot of change since the end of the regular season, with 4 receivers leaving the team via the transfer portal, a coach being fired, and a new coach being brought on. Despite these hurdles, their production against Oregon State was encouraging, for the most part. The two brightest spots were Jordan Faison, with 5 catches for 115 yards and a TD, and Jayden Thomas, with 4 catches for 59 yards and a TD. Unfortunately, we did not see Deion Colzie, and Jaden Greathouse had a quiet day, only posting 2 catches for 13 yards. With Mitchell Evans still injured and Holden Staes having left in the portal, Eli Raridon led the TE room in playing time, posting 2 catches for 12 yards. 


The offensive line held the most questions heading into this game. Starting center Zeke Correll announced his transfer, and both Joe Alt and Blake Fisher opted out for their NFL preparation, leaving 3 open positions on the line. Standout freshman Charles Jagusah held down the left tackle alongside sophomore Ashton Craig at center, junior Pat Coogan at left guard, sophomore Billy Schrauth at right guard, and sophomore Aamil Wagner at right tackle. Despite the group having little experience together, they only gave up 2 sacks against the Beavers, and their overall performance soothed most of the offensive concerns. Additionally, the Irish only posted 3 penalties, 2 "delay of game" penalties on offense and 1 "12 men on the field" penalty on defense.


Al Golden and Irish defense capped off a successful season with a stifling performance against the Beavers. The big guys up front pressured Oregon State the entire game, recording 4 sacks and 1 interception, forcing them to go 1/9 on 3rd down and 1/3 on 4th down. The Beavers couldn't get anything going either on the ground or through the air, with their leading rusher going for 15 yards on 6 rushes and their top receiver posting 56 yards on 3 catches.





2024 - Looking Ahead

The 2024 season will bring new hopes and a bevy of unknown variables that college football is still adjusting to. The 12-team playoff, conference realignment, record NIL deals, a busier-than-ever transfer portal, and new TV deals; talk about a season with all-new variables. Marcus Freeman's 2nd straight bowl win gives him his best record at Notre Dame, ending the season 10-3. This upcoming off-season will provide a better idea of how Notre Dame's final roster will shake out, but let us first examine what the 2024 schedule has planned for the Irish. 



The Schedule

Below is the schedule the Irish will play in 2024 with some interesting footnotes for consideration.


Week 1 - Aug. 31st - @ Texas A&M

  • 7-6 in 2023

  • The Aggies lost to Oklahoma State in "The Texas Bowl" 23-31.

  • Jimbo Fisher is out - Mike Elko is in.

  • Prediction - Potentially Close Win

  • This is an SEC matchup, which means it will likely be a tough one. Despite this, the Irish only hold a losing record against 1 SEC team, that being Georgia, and they currently hold a 3-2 edge over the Aggies all-time. This marks the 1st meeting between the two since 2004, and the Irish will have a fresh crop of 3 new WRs, an experienced senior QB in Riley Leonard, and the mastermind of the leading offense in the nation in 2023, Mike Denbrock, arriving in South Bend. Mike Elko should be an upgrade over Jimbo Fisher in the long term, but like anywhere else, a 1st-year coach will need some time to make the team his own, and this being his first game coaching the Aggies will pose a considerable challenge. Additionally, this will be Elko's first matchup against the Irish since he left after holding the defensive coordinator position in 2017. Regardless, the Irish should win this game, although it could be a close one.


Week 2 - Sept. 7th - V. Northern Illinois

  • 7-6 in 2023

  • MAC

  • Not to be flippant, but this is a MAC team, and unless we see a frankly unacceptable loss again, similar to the infamous Marshall game, this should be an easy win. Adding to NIU's uphill climb in this matchup, this will be their first matchup against the Irish, their first time in South Bend, and a huge matchup early on in 2024 as they come off a 7-6 2023 campaign. 

  • Prediction - Easy win

  • The Irish, especially if they handled Texas A&M the week before, should easily dominate the Huskies.


Week 3 - Sept. 14th - @ Purdue

  • 4-8 in 2023

  • Rivalry

  • Notre Dame and Purdue hold a historic rivalry that, unfortunately, has lapsed in the face of Notre Dame's ACC deal. This will be the first matchup between the two programs since 2021 and Notre Dame's first trip to Lafayette since 2013. The Irish lead the all-time series 57-26-2.

  • Purdue will bring back 2nd-year head coach Ryan Walters, who posted a first-season record of 4-8.

  • Prediction - Easy Win

  • Yes, rivalry games are always more competitive, and anything can happen. Yes, the BIG-10 is a tough conference, but the Irish should handle the Boilermakers with little trouble.


Week 4 - Sept. 21st - V. Miami Ohio

  • 11-3 in 2023

  • This will be Notre Dame's second MAC opponent through 4 games in the 2024 season and the 3rd ever matchup between the two schools. The last game between the two came in 2017 when the Redhawks traveled to South Bend and lost 52-17.

  • This seems to be the first real trap game for the Irish, as the Red Hawks went 11-3 in 2023 and won the MAC title. Notre Dame should obviously win this game, but after two straight cupcake games, there's a possibility that Freeman's squad could overlook Miami Ohio before they face Louisville the following week. The Redhawks return their QB, RB, and should be bringing back their top 3 receivers.

  • Prediction - Potentially Close Win - But Shouldn't Be

  • Notre Dame should take care of this one, although it could be closer than most fans would like. This game should give Irish fans a pretty good idea of what their team really is heading into their week 5 matchup against Louisville.





Week 5 - Sept. 28th - Louisville

  • 10-3 in 2023

  • This is only the 5th matchup between the Cardinals and the Irish.

  • They lost a very disappointing game at Louisville in 2023. The win was huge for the Cardinals, leading them to the ACC title game against FSU, where they ultimately fell 16-6 to an undermanned Seminoles squad.

  • Prediction - 60/40 - Could Lose, Should Win

  • This could realistically be the most challenging matchup the Irish have seen yet in 2024 and will be their 5th straight game without a BYE.

  • Thankfully, the game is at home, and after that ugly loss in 2023, Freeman and his squad should be looking for any and every advantage so as not to become victims of the Cardinals yet again. Thankfully, Freeman and returning OC Mike Denbrock have a retooled offense that should, at a minimum, keep them scoring enough to be competitive with anyone. Thankfully, what should be just as good of a defense should spell too much for the Cardinals to overcome. The Irish could potentially drop this game, but they likely take care of business at home and head into their first BYE week undefeated.


Week 6 - Oct. 5th - BYE

  • This is the first of 3 current openings on Notre Dame's 2024 schedule. These 3 openings are due to the University of Miami's scheduling issue that took them off Notre Dame's 2024 schedule. The Irish will likely keep this as a week off to prevent them from playing 9 straight games but will have to fill 1 of the remaining 2 open weeks on their schedule.


Week 7 - Oct. 12th - V. Stanford

  • 3-9 in 2023

  • This will be Stanford's first matchup against the Irish as an ACC team, making them the 1st of 5 ACC matchups for the Irish in 2024.

  • The Cardinal had a rough 2023 campaign, going 3-9 with first-year head coach Troy Taylor. Taylor will return and look to better his record in his second year.

  • Prediction - Easy Win

  • The idea of losing to Stanford seems silly at a glance, but Irish fans still remember the shocking upset at home against the Cardinal in 2022, Freeman's first season full season as head coach. For that reason, I don't see Freeman dropping this game. He learned from his mistake in 2022 and beat Stanford solidly on the road in 2023, 56-23. Notre Dame, if disciplined, should handily beat Stanford at home.


Week 8 - Oct. 19th - @ Georgia Tech

  • 7-6 in 2023

  • Prediction - Easy Win

  • The stage for this game is a big one, taking place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons, the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl, and one of the finest stadiums in the NFL. Again, at the risk of being flippant, Georgia Tech has been a relatively weak program for years. 3-9 in both 2020 and 2021, 5-7 in 2022, and 7-6 in 2023. While they have indeed improved every year for 4 years now, I don't see that improvement coming at the expense of the 2024 fighting Irish. Notre Dame should easily handle the Yellow Jackets and win another one for Rudy.


Week 9 - Oct. 26th - V. Navy @ MetLife Stadium

  • 5-7 in 2023

  • This will be Brian Newberry's 2nd season as head coach at Navy and only his 2nd season ever as a head coach.

  • Prediction - Easy Win

  • After facing Navy in Ireland in 2023, the Fighting Irish will face the Midshipmen at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. This will be the second NFL stadium the Irish will play in during the 2024 campaign. Much like the Georgia Tech matchup, the main hurdle is the elevated stage, not necessarily the opponent. The Irish should take care of the Midshipmen again and extend their win streak to 7 in a row.


Week 10 - Nov. 2nd - TBD

  • This is the second open week of three on the Notre Dame schedule and was the date originally set up with Miami. Instead, the Hurricanes will return to South Bend in 2026. Odds are Notre Dame fills this open week out of the three available. Unfortunately, it will likely be a matchup with Army at Yankee Stadium to continue the Shamrock Series. While a fine college football rivalry steeped in tradition, adding a name like Army to a relatively easy 2024 schedule would only hurt Notre Dame's already tenuous strength of schedule.


Week 11 - Nov. 9th - V. Florida State

  • 13-0 in 2023

  • Mike Norvell will be entering his 5th season as head coach at FSU. 2021 was his first full season as head coach, and the team went 5-7 but improved dramatically in 2022, posting a 10-3 record with a win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl. 2023 was by far his most successful season with the Seminoles, going 13-0 and controversially being left out of the CFP. Like many other major college football programs, FSU is learning to adapt to early NFL declarations and transfers. 

  • Talent Vacuum

  • They won a relatively uninspired ACC title against Louisville using their 3rd string QB and expect to have more than 20 players opt out for their Cotton Bowl matchup against Georgia. Obviously, FSU will have to replace this mass exodus of talent, which will pose quite an obstacle for 2024 and against the Irish in this matchup. Additionally, FSU is in the middle of quite a bit of program drama as they attempt to exit the ACC and further shake up the conference realignment landscape.

  • Prediction - 60/40 - Could Lose, Should Win

  • With significant talent leaving this off-season, including star QB Jordan Travis, FSU will need to play much better football than we saw in the ACC title game against Louisville. Notre Dame will be looking to continue what could very possibly be an undefeated slate thus far in 2024 and could tie the all-time series at 6-6 with a win. This will likely be one of the tougher matchups the Irish will face in 2024, but with FSU hoping to follow up their best season in years, Notre Dame should take care of business, barring an unfortunate collapse. Expect a close game, either in score or matchup.


Week 12 - Nov. 16th - V. Virginia

  • 3-9 in 2023

  • Prediction - Easy Win

  • Notre Dame has never lost to UVA, holding an all-time 4-0 edge in the series. The Irish will likely be a significant favorite in this game, and even late in the season, before a possible BYE week, it's doubtful the Irish will slip up against the Cavaliers. If there is an upset in Notre Dame's 2024 schedule, it will likely come before this matchup. Look for the Irish to handily defeat Virginia and possibly increase their record to either 10-0 or 11-0 at best.


Week 13 - Nov. 23rd - BYE

  • This week is the 3rd of 3 openings on the Notre Dame schedule and will likely remain a BYE, but if the Irish can't set up a game on November 2nd, this is likely the 2nd option. Although, one would imagine Notre Dame would be okay with a week off before facing their fiercest rival in week 14, USC.


Week 14 - Nov. 30th - @ USC

  • 7-5 in 2023

  • Lincoln Riley and USC will bring tons of athleticism to the field despite losing key pieces

  • Prediction - 50/50 - Should win

  • Being both an away game and a rivalry game makes this arguably Notre Dame's most significant hurdle of 2024. As Notre Dame fans know all too well, anything can happen against USC. Ideally, Notre Dame should have the prior week off if all goes well in finding their 12th game of the season, giving them a slight edge over the Trojans. Lincoln Riley's squad will not have Heisman winner Caleb Williams to rely on but will, as always, retain a glut of talent, particularly on offense. What inspires the most confidence is the result of the 2023 matchup. The Irish stomped the Trojans, even with Caleb Williams, 48-20. While 2024 is a different year for both teams, the Irish should take this game, even if it's a close one.





Outlook

Where will the Irish be come December 1st 2024?


We can split the schedule into 4 parts:

1. Easy Wins

  • NIU - MAC

  • Purdue - BIG 10

  • Miami Ohio - MAC

  • Stanford - ACC

  • Georgia Tech - ACC

  • Navy - ACC

  • Virginia - ACC

  • Texas A&M - SEC

  • USC - BIG 10


3. Could Lose, Should Win

  • Louisville - ACC

  • FSU - ACC


4. Unknown

  • Unknown 12th Matchup


The floor for 2024 should be 10-2. That's a 1 game improvement over the 2023 record, with an objectively easier schedule. Notre Dame should handily win the 7 "Easy Wins" above and should, at worst, split both the "Tough Games" and "Could Lose, Should Win" categories. The Irish could likely pull off 3/4 wins in their more challenging matchups, giving them an 11-1 record. The best thing Notre Dame can do for themselves would be to schedule the best team possible for their 12th game. Unfortunately, getting a solid team that would boost the overall strength of the schedule is slim. Notre Dame played their first FCS team in 2023, Tennessee State, opening the possibility of playing another in the future. This means there's a relatively high likelihood Notre Dame will be forced to schedule another in 2024 due to scheduling logistics.


Outside of an FCS opponent, the most likely move to fill the final opening would be a matchup against Army at Yankee Stadium as a part of the Shamrock Series. 2024 would mark the 100th anniversary of the classic 1924 game, which makes the matchup even more likely to happen. Complicating things, Army is currently overbooked for 2024, with 14 games scheduled, but both teams have November 23rd open as of now. If Notre Dame does schedule Army, this would be their 3rd neutral site game in 2024 and would assuredly hit the Irish's overall strength of schedule. Obviously, the best-case scenario is winning out. Unlike 2023, the 2024 schedule is far too weak to compensate for a loss, even if it's to one of Notre Dame's best opponents. To have the best possible chance to make the CFP, the Irish must both win out and have USC, Texas A&M, FSU, and Louisville all end up in the top 10-15. The expanded 12-team CFP comes at the perfect time for Notre Dame. The 2024 schedule is already weak but winnable, with only 11 games scheduled, but if the Irish do win out, it would be a shock if they don't at least make a 10-12 seed.



4 comentarios


Invitado
07 ene

Just because he made a mistake with his stats doesn't mean he is lazy. He is the only person on this site that I actually enjoy reading his articles and there is no way he is lazy judging by the length he goes to for the information in these articles.

Connor please keep up the great work!

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Connor Regan
Connor Regan
12 ene
Contestando a

I genuinely appreciate that, thank you! Please keep reading!

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Invitado
03 ene

This writer is either lazy, dumb or both. Elko and ND faced off just this past season. Other mistakes throughout the article. Where do you find these people?

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Connor Regan
Connor Regan
03 ene
Contestando a

Apologies for the oversight. You are correct, this will indeed be Elko’s second matchup against the Irish since he left. Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like me to correct. Again, apologies for letting that one slip.

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