The VSiN college football experts have been hard at work this summer, writing up team previews and predictions for all 131 FBS teams, including their favorite individual season win total and College Football Playoff bets.
Here are the team previews for the independents:
After 12 seasons, Brian Kelly departed for LSU in December and Notre Dame quickly hired defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman as his replacement. The players’ jubilant reaction to the Freeman hiring became a viral video. Freeman has hit the ground running on the recruiting trail but how will he be when the games start? In Freeman’s first act, Notre Dame squandered a 21-point lead to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Tommy Rees stayed on staff as the offensive coordinator, which was a massive win for Freeman. The biggest question is the quarterback position. How good is Tyler Buchner? Buchner rushed for 336 yards and three touchdowns last season as a true freshman but only attempted 35 passes. At running back, Notre Dame lost Kyren Williams to the NFL. Williams rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2020 and 2021. Chris Tyree has explosive speed but is not expected to take over all of the carries that Williams had. Logan Diggs, who rushed for 230 yards last year, is expected to return in October after a shoulder injury. TE Michael Mayer (71 catches, 840 yards, 7 TDs) is arguably the top tight end in the country, which is important with an inexperienced wide receiver group. Leading WR Kevin Austin left for the NFL and the Irish have recruited poorly at the position. Sophomore WR Lorenzo Styles should have a breakout season. Up front, the Irish are stacked on the offensive line. Veteran OL coach Harry Hiestand (2012-17) has returned for a second stint in South Bend.