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CFB Data: Early Analysis of Notre Dame’s 2023 Schedule

Some very early data cuts about the Irish’s 2023 slate of college football opponents.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame football’s 2023 season is set and it’s shaping up to be an interesting campaign for the Irish. Coming off of a strong rally to close out the 2022 outing, a lot of eyes are on Marcus Freeman’s program going into its second season.

A really early breakdown of the Irish’s opponents reveal a seemingly manageable schedule but one that’s also uniquely poised to keep fans on the edge of their seats from week-to-week.

Games by Date

The Irish will kickoff their 2023 season on August 26, facing off against Navy all the way over in Dublin, Ireland. ‘they’ll then move onto a packed September of play before catching bye weeks in October and November. The October bye will fall in between the USC and Pitt matchups while the November bye is sandwiched between the Clemson and Wake Forest contests.

Games by Location

The season opener in Dublin will act as this year’s installment of the Shamrock Series.

Of the season’s formal away games, the bulk will be played in the Carolinas. The Irish will travel to North Carolina to face off against NC State in Raleigh and Duke in Durham before making the trip in early November to line up against Clemson in South Carolina.

The squad’s October slate of games will start off with a Kentucky trip to meet up with Louisville and they’ll close out the season with a West Coast journey for the Stanford game.

Some of the season’s most anticipated matchups, Ohio State, USC and Wake Forest will all be played at home in South Bend.

Early Strength of Schedule Look

It’s going to continue to be a crazy offseason for all CFB programs and it’s definitely too early to really be making solid claims about the strength of 2023’s opponents. Still, though, looking back on how Notre Dame’s future opponents fared in 2022 is a meaningful measure to start noodling around with.

The season’s first four games are poised to give the squad a chance to figure things out early without crazy odds. Starting off the 2022 campaign with Ohio State followed by Marshall shook things up for us in ways that a lot of us are hoping to forget but (knock on wood) I don’t think there’s too much cause for similar concerns this upcoming season. The most formidable early challenge will likely come against NC State in the season’s third game.

The middle to late portions of the season are where things start to get very interesting. The Irish’s 2023 rematch against the Buckeyes will again likely be the team’s most formidable opponent. But if the USC and Clemson programs come back with even comparable levels performance from 2022, they’ll be nail-biters as well.

The remainder of ND’s ACC opponents (Duke, Louisville, Pitt and Wake Forest) are likely to pose notable challenges but it’s hard to judge from this early vantage point. Of those ACC matchups, the Wake Forest game is likely the biggest wildcard mostly because of the impacts that the quarterback switcheroo will have on both teams.

The squad’s weakest opponent next year is projected to be Stanford, who only won 3 total games last season. Unfortunately, Notre Dame was one of those three victories and regardless of how the Cardinal play next season there will be a lot of pressure to follow up that rough loss with a decisive victory.

Coaching Mysteries

Probably one of the most interesting characteristics of Notre Dame’s 2023 opponent slate is the overall short tenure of head coaches.

The Irish will be facing off against three teams (Navy, Louisville and Stanford) who will be fielding new head coaches. The squad’s 2022 matchups against Navy and Stanford didn’t go the way we envisioned and it’ll be really interesting to see how Marcus Freemen and his staff prepare to meet up against the newly helmed programs next season.

Tennessee State, Duke and USC are also bringing second year coaches to the table. A ton of eyes will undoubtedly be on the mid-October USC game as Lincoln Riley attempts to repeat his first-season success against the Irish, only this time back in South Bend.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot about Notre Dame football’s 2023 dance card to be both excited and terrified about. The historical ties, both long-term and recent, with a lot of the opponents will make for great media and hopefully competitive play (with ND hopefully coming out on top more often than not). Throw in the continued shifting sands of the offseason and I think that Irish fans are in for a really entertaining, although likely stressful, 2nd year campaign for Marcus Freeman and company.

Cheers and Go Irish!!