Notre Dame football welcomed us all back to the college football scene for the 2023 season with their dominant performance over Navy football on Saturday from Dublin, Ireland. This matchup was much closer last season when the now second-year head coach Marcus Freeman took over the program from Brian Kelly. The Fighting Irish maintained their winning streak, however, prevailing over the Midshipmen with a score of 35-32. Navy hasn't secured a victory against Notre Dame since 2016.
This year's game presented a stark contrast to last year's contest, where the lopsided score of 42-3 played a significant role. Thus, here are a few overreactions concerning Notre Dame football and their new quarterback, Sam Hartman, following their recent win.
2. Sam Hartman is the best Notre Dame quarterback since Brady Quinn
When was the last time Notre Dame had a decorated starting quarterback? The last one was Brady Quinn, a two-time All-American, Maxwell Award winner, and holder of a 29-17 record as a starter for the Fighting Irish. Quinn's final year with Notre Dame was back in 2006, and since then, the Irish have cycled through 13 different quarterbacks. While some, like Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush, performed well, it often felt as though the Irish lacked an exceptional quarterback.
The prayers of Notre Dame's football fans might have been answered with Sam Hartman. In his inaugural game for the Irish on Saturday, Hartman completed 19 out of 23 passes, amassing 251 yards and delivering four touchdowns. The senior quarterback's debut was nothing short of remarkable, especially considering he had to travel all the way across the pond to achieve it.
Those who followed Hartman's journey at Wake Forest wouldn't be surprised by his performance. During his time there, he threw for nearly 40 touchdowns and 8,000 yards over the last two seasons. His ability to sling the ball is undeniable. Is it too soon to consider Hartman as an early Heisman candidate? Well, since this is an overreaction piece, let's embrace it and put Hartman in the Heisman spotlight.
If Hartman can maintain his usual statistics throughout Notre Dame's challenging schedule this season, there's no reason why he shouldn't contend for the award.
1. Notre Dame football will defeat Ohio State this year
While moments last year had us questioning the promotion of Freeman as head coach, this year's single game should prompt us to react in the opposite direction. After Notre Dame's loss to Marshall last season in their second game, many thought Freeman was in over his head. However, as the season progressed, the Fighting Irish football team visibly improved, particularly on the offensive front, averaging 31.8 points per game. Admittedly, this was with Tyler Buchner at quarterback and Tommy Rees as offensive coordinator—both of whom have moved to Alabama this season. Gerad Parker, the promoted tight-ends coach, is now the offensive coordinator.
Parker will have Hartman at quarterback, but the assessment of his prowess as a play-caller remains to be seen. This evaluation might not come until late September when the Ohio State Buckeyes visit South Bend for a pivotal game for both teams.
Let's consider a scenario where Notre Dame and Ohio State both remain undefeated. Notre Dame will have to face Tennessee State, NC State, and Central Michigan before the primetime matchup with the Buckeyes on ABC. Ohio State, on the other hand, has Indiana, Youngstown State, and Western Kentucky lined up. It's feasible that the Buckeyes could remain undefeated, securing a No. 3 ranking in the country. While Notre Dame, ranked 13th in the AP Poll, will encounter a tougher challenge when they travel to Raleigh, NC to face the Wolfpack. If they navigate that hurdle successfully, a top 10 matchup could be on the horizon by September 18.
This season holds immense significance for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes, given their usual lofty expectations. Although Notre Dame boasts quarterback certainty with Hartman, the same cannot be said for Ohio State this year. The Irish haven't bested the Buckeyes since 1936, having faced each other five times since then, including last year's game. Hence, if one were to draw a significant overreaction from the Week 0 game against Navy, it would be the prediction that Notre Dame will defeat Ohio State this season.