After coming off of a 22-10 loss for the Ohio State Buckeyes, number eight-ranked Notre Dame was looking to get revenge, and defeat Marshall-handedly. However, the result was a shock win by Marshall, defeating the fighting Irish 26-21 resulting in Notre Dame going from eighth to completely unranked. This makes Notre Dame 0-2 to start the season and the first time that they have been unranked since 2017. The fighting Irish’s college football playoff hopes are completely in dust, as they now must begin to fight for a game in January in the first place.
Cannot Close Out Games
A common theme throughout Notre Dame’s games this season is their inability to close out a game. Against Ohio State, Notre Dame came into the second half leading, and against Marshall, they led moments into the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, both times the team crumbled with the lead, allowing the teams to get back in and dominate the second half.
This is a similar issue that Notre Dame dealt with in their bowl game against Oklahoma State to end the year last season. Notre Dame lead the Cowboys 28-14 in the first half but ended up losing that game as well. That makes new head coach Marcus Freeman 0-3 in his Notre Dame head coaching career, not the start to a career that he wanted. Freeman is said to be beloved in the locker rooms, but results need to come quick before he could be the next coach fired.
The Offense Isn’t Working
The Notre Dame offense is completely uninspiring at the moment. The fighting Irish rank as the 13th lowest yards per game in the FBS. Notre Dame is also averaging one of the nation’s worse 15.5 points per game. No matter who Notre Dame is playing, they’re going to need to put up more than 15 points, unless they were to have the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense. Although Notre Dame doesn’t have a terrific defense, particularly bad in the run defense, their defense isn’t the biggest issue, as the offense cannot execute when the defense puts them in a good field position.
Shockingly, quarterback Tyler Buchner has not thrown a passing touchdown all season so far. No matter how good a defense is, they cannot make up for zero touchdowns from their quarterback. Unfortunately, Buchner was injured late in the game and was replaced by quarterback Drew Pyne, who also threw an interception. However, Pyne did throw a touchdown late in the game, giving Notre Dame their first passing touchdown of the season. Currently, the timetable of the injury to Buchner is unknown.
Too Many Giveaways
One of Notre Dame’s biggest struggles on offense this week was their turnovers. Despite not turning the ball over at all against Ohio State, they turned the ball over three times against Marshall. Buchner had a rough game, throwing two picks against the herd, with one being a pick-six for Marshall corner Steven Gilmore, brother of Indianapolis Colt’s corner, Stephon Gilmore.
Notre Dame either punted, turned the ball over on downs, or was intercepted on their first six drives of the game, not getting a point until two minutes left into the first quarter. Notre Dame is not only getting the ball taken away, but punting and turning the ball over on downs; they do not execute in the red zone to get any points.
From 8th To Unranked
All playoff hopes are done after Notre Dame slid from 8th ranked to unranked after their loss against Marshall. Unfortunately, for the Fighting Irish, things do not get much easier. Notre Dame still has to play the likes of BYU, Clemson, and USC later this season.
Notre Dame is currently in a position where they have to focus less on making the college football playoffs, or an important bowl game, and focus on trying to make a bowl game at all. As the season continues, Notre Dame needs to make quick adjustments, or they will not even be a .500 team, and Marcus Freeman could be on the hot seat.