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Notre Dame, Marcus Freeman can flip the script on 2022 against BYU


The best thing Marcus Freeman can do for his Notre Dame program is to beat BYU in Las Vegas.

While things have not gone over well in the early part of the Marcus Freeman era of Notre Dame football, the Fighting Irish have the potential to flip the script if they can beat the No. 16 BYU Cougars in Las Vegas.

Saturday’s battle between Mormons and Catholics will be played out in the desert Rumba known as Allegiant Stadium. Although these are the two best independent football programs of note, BYU is going Power Five next year when they join the Big 12 alongside Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. As for Notre Dame, the Irish need to play up to par in Las Vegas if they want to push for a bowl game.

For as rough of a start as it has been for Freeman in South Bend, a BYU win would do wonders for him.

Notre Dame, Marcus Freeman can change the narrative with a win big over BYU

After losing his first three games at the helm leading Notre Dame (Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, at Ohio State on Labor Day Weekend and home vs. Marshall in Week 2), Freeman and the Golden Domers have rattled off a pair of one-score wins over Cal and UNC. Although Cal and UNC are not world-beaters, those are two victories the Irish needed to have with their tough schedule.

While it is technically a neutral-site affair in Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium is closer to Provo than it is to South Bend. BYU has a massive national fanbase, but does not garner the vitriol anywhere closer to what Notre Dame does. However, a win over the ranked Cougars could be what catapults the Irish back up to national relevancy in the final two-thirds of Freeman’s first season on the job.

The Irish have had an extra week to prepare for Kalani Sitake’s national independent power. BYU is every bit ready to make the leap up in competition once it joins the Big 12 next year. While Notre Dame should be able to win its next two games after this at home vs. Stanford and UNLV, playing at Syracuse is looking tougher by the week. The Fighting Irish still have to play Clemson and USC…

Even if the Irish get wins over Stanford, UNLV, Navy and Boston College to achieve bowl eligibility anyway, most Notre Dame fans may not feel good about where things are heading under their first-time head coach. Freeman’s predecessor Brian Kelly had the Irish as a top-six program in the country, regularly getting into the College Football Playoff and playing in meaningful bowl games.

Conversely, a neutral-site win over the best Group of Five team in the country in BYU may give the Irish the necessary upward trajectory to go around 8-4, possibly ascending to 9-3 if they get lucky vs. Clemson or USC. If they can beat BYU in Las Vegas, they have a decent shot of beating Syracuse on the road. Although Clemson and USC are looking strong, they can totally slip up down the stretch.

A win over BYU may silence some of Freeman’s critics, but a loss only feeds the ongoing narrative.

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