UNLV Football: First Look At The Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Rebels will head to South Bend for a clash with the Irish in non-conference play this October.
One of the best teams in the country.
UNLV Football: First Look at 2022 Non-conference Opponents
The UNLV Rebels will wade through a bit of their Mountain West Conference schedule before hitting the road one last time to finish their four-game non-conference slate against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
That storied program is undergoing a bit of unexpected transition following Brian Kelly’s shocking departure for LSU back in November 2021, but make no mistake: Marcus Arroyo’s Rebels will have a difficult task on their hands when the Irish wake up the echoes and do what they can to play like champions on that October Saturday.
Location: South Bend, Indiana
Series History: This will be the first meeting between UNLV and Notre Dame.
2021 Record: 11-2
Head Coach: Marcus Freeman (first year). Freeman inherits one of the tougher jobs in college football, but that’s mostly because the expectations from year to year among the Irish faithful are sky high. However, he had a great deal of success as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2017 to 2020 and helped the Notre Dame defense finish 15th overall by SP+ last year, which made his elevation to the head coach role after Kelly’s exit seem like a natural fit.
Michael Mayer, TE
A tight end almost certainly bound for the NFL, Mayer will help pace an offense for the Top-10 ranked Irish. The 6′ 5″ junior can play on the line or in the slot and is able to hold his own in run blocking as well. Opposing defenses will certainly need to key on him whenever, wherever on the field, and Mayer has proven more than willing to rise to the occasion.
Michael Mayer: 91.2 receiving grade over the final three weeks of the season, highest among all Tight Ends👀 pic.twitter.com/QiHdJezwkw
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 23, 2021
Jarrett Patterson, C
Patterson, in short, will be in the discussion as one of the best centers in the country this season. He will also be one of four returning starters for an offensive line that is expected to be among the best in the country, and the overwhelming strength of this offense. A skillful player with an intelligent approach to the game, expect to hear Patterson’s name in the mix for several season-end awards.
Isaiah Foskey, DE
With 11 sacks last year, Isaiah Foskey made quite the impact and returns this year looking for even more success. With senior Jayson Ademilola, Foskey will be one of the stars on a stellar defensive line, part of a defense looking to stand out on the national stage. Foskey is being talked about as a possible first-round pick in the NFL Draft; starring on a top-20 defense would go a long way towards helping his prospects.
Brandon Joseph, S
An All-American coming in through the transfer portal from Northwestern, Joseph is a physical defensive back who will help offset the loss of Kyle Hamilton to the NFL. He joins an experienced secondary that will be tested throughout the season, including Ohio State in the season opener.
A freshman Brandon Joseph (16) in man coverage against five-star receiver Garrett Wilson on a pass from five-star Justin Fields. Notre Dame needs this kind of coverage ability at safety when teams spread out the defense. pic.twitter.com/GxXC1tRsYF
— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) January 8, 2022
Tyler Buchner, QB
Projected as this year’s starter for the Irish, Buchner is an athletic quarterback who can throw deep. He’ll need to learn as the season goes on, but offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will have some opportunities to expand the playcalling with a mobile quarterback like Buchner. He’ll need to grow into his frame more if he becomes more of a running quarterback, but he’ll have a strong supporting cast this year to help along the way.
Overall, this offense has more than enough talent to put together another good year for the Irish. A sturdy offensive line, an NFL-ready tight end and a speedy, capable running backs unit will all be featured this year. There’s a lot to be excited about for a top-20 scoring offense from 2021.
But the question marks separating a “good” season from a “great” one remain front and center for this team. How will a quarterback with only 35 pass attempts last year handle the grind of a season played on the national stage? Can the team find a deep threat at wide receiver to really challenge opposing defenses?
The schedule does them few favors with a week one, nationally televised game at Ohio State. From there, the Irish will have a number of winnable games over several weeks, at least until they face Clemson in South Bend on November 3rd. They’ll finish the season with Boston College and at USC, two rivaled opponents that would love the opportunity to upset the Irish.
The 15th-ranked scoring defense from 2021 is back with returning starters at every level. Similar to their offensive counterparts, stars abound on this side of the ball, but the questions that linger are hard to overlook among the nation’s best teams.
The front seven has the potential to rank among the nation’s best and there’s a depth here that not only can dominate some of this season’s lesser opponents but show promise for Notre Dame’s future as well.
The defensive backs will need to play well and stay healthy all season for this team to not only remain competitive but improve on a passing defense that ranked 64th last year (224.2 yards per game). There are enough teams on this year’s schedule with the talent to exploit that weakness, should the secondary be their undoing.
There’s a certain irony in Notre Dame going to Las Vegas in early October, to Allegiant Stadium, to face BYU and not UNLV. And in late October, UNLV will travel to South Bend, in the midst of the toughest stretch in the Rebels’ schedule. The weather will likely not be favorable that time of year, and neither will the Irish, who will be looking to win convincingly and remain in the national title conversation.
Notre Dame 44, UNLV 13