Alabama-Georgia: FIW staff predictions

Who you got tonight in Indy?

The 2021 college football season comes to a close tonight in Indianapolis as it’s a rematch of the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia.

Will the Tide roll again or will the Dawgs finally get over the hump?

Will it be another classic like when the two met to conclude the 2017 season?

Here is what the Fighting Irish Wire staff sees happening tonight in Indy:

Notre Dame transfer portal tracker (2022)

An ongoing list of those departing and those entering…

The transfer portal is sweeping college football and changing the landscape of the entire sport like few things have before.  Although Notre Dame hasn’t been hit with a major loss by any means this season, there is still plenty of an impact that can be felt as nine different players have entered the portal since the start of the football season.

We assume it’s only a matter of time before the Irish land a few commitments in it but as of now that is not yet the case.

Here are those nine and the latest on their future destinations:

Notre Dame speedster returning for another year

Some good news in regards to the receiver position in 2022…

Notre Dame will have questions at wide receiver as the Irish turn their attention to preparing for the 2022 season but they did get good news for the position on Sunday night as Braden Lenzy went the way of Arnold Schwarzenegger in declaring his return next season.

Lenzy burst onto the scene in 2019 with several explosive plays for Notre Dame before 2020 saw him battle a hamstring injury that severely limited his availability.  2021 saw Lenzy haul in 32 receptions for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

With Kevin Austin off to the NFL and significant struggles in recent years to recruit the position, Lenzy could very well see a bigger role in the offense in 2022.  His speed along with what Chris Tyree and Lorenzo Styles bring to the offense could bring big problems for opposing defenses.

Lenzy’s return answers some of the questions regarding Notre Dame at receiver in 2022 but Avery Davis’s decision still remains to be seen.  Regardless, I’d anticipate Marcus Freeman, Tommy Rees, and company to be looking for additions to the position by way of the transfer portal this off-season.

Related:

Notre Dame’s leading receiver headed to NFL draft

Notre Dame blows Fiesta Bowl lead – 5 Instant Takeaways

College football world reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Five plays that loomed largest in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss

Five Stars: Best and worst from Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl blunder

Kurt Hinish headed to Hula Bowl

All the best to the man who wore the gold helmet more than any other player in program history

Veteran Notre Dame defensive lineman Kurt Hinish has been announced as headed to this year’s Hula Bowl in Orlando.

Hinish finished his career having played more games in a Notre Dame uniform than any other player in program history.

Related:  Hinish set for home finale at Notre Dame Stadium

The Hula Bowl has been traditionally been played in Hawaii as you would expect but was moved to Florida this season.  Last year’s game saw Notre Dame cornerback Nick McCloud intercept a pair of passes.

Hinish will suit up for the game on January 15.

Related:

Notre Dame’s leading receiver headed to NFL draft

Notre Dame blows Fiesta Bowl lead – 5 Instant Takeaways

College football world reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Five plays that loomed largest in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss

Five Stars: Best and worst from Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl blunder

Notre Dame leading receiver to opt for NFL draft

What will Notre Dame do at receiver for 2022?

Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Austin appears to have played his final down for the Fighting Irish as Pete Sampson from The Athletic stated on Twitter on Sunday that Austin will opt for the NFL draft instead of return to Notre Dame.

Austin has a year of eligibility remaining but appears headed to the NFL.  His Notre Dame career was shaky early on between off the field issues and a foot injury that kept him sidelined but in 2021 he was finally able to show his full potential as he hauled in 48 receptions for 888 yards and seven touchdowns.

Austin’s departure is even more of a hit to Notre Dame’s wide receiver group however as troubles in recruiting paired with departures via the transfer portal have left a significant hole at the position.

The departure of Austin likely means Notre Dame will head to the transfer portal to try and get help at the receiver position for 2022.  Also, don’t be surprised if the Irish try adding another scholarship wide receiver in the next signing period that opens in February.

Related:

Notre Dame blows Fiesta Bowl lead – 5 Instant Takeaways

College football world reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Five plays that loomed largest in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss

Five Stars: Best and worst from Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl blunder

Kyle Hamilton responds to Herbstreit and Howard

Kyle Hamilton spoke up about the controversial comments that were made on College Gameday

Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard broke in the new year by being college football’s equivalent of old men yelling at a cloud. During Saturday morning’s “College Gameday” they spoke about how players today don’t love football like players back in their day loved football because of the massive opt-outs you now see in bowl games.

You can check out the clip below but one of the biggest names to opt-out of their bowl game was Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton who figures to have his name called very early in the 2022 NFL draft. Hamilton took to Twitter on Sunday morning to respond to the commentary.

Players have more power now and that’s much to the chagrin of some out there.

Kyle Hamilton came to Notre Dame likely to get a great education and develop more as a football player. His greatest window to make money as a football player is now. If he doesn’t want to risk losing what will likely be generational wealth to play in Fiesta Bowl why should he?

I applaud Matt Corral of Ole Miss for playing in last night’s Sugar Bowl. It was his choice and the likely first round pick was unfortunately injured early in the contest. He wanted to play with his team one more time and chose to do so with an unfortunate result.

In applauding Corral’s choice though I feel it’s as equally important to applaud players like Hamilton, Kyren Williams, and plenty of others nationally who made their choices as well, even if they hurt their teams chances at winning a bowl game.

Too often I think these student-athletes are grouped together as being “money hungry” or “in it for the wrong reasons” when ultimately they’re often making the same decision the vast majority of us would make under the same circumstances.

Marcus Freeman discusses Fiesta Bowl collapse

Well, one way to go from here…

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman made his debut in a head spot Saturday and things looked great for him and the Fighting Irish until it all went south.

Notre Dame blew a 28-7 lead and ultimately fell 37-35 as their streak of not winning a major bowl game since January of 1994 continued.

Freeman spoke after the contest and had the following to share in regards to all things Notre Dame and Fiesta Bowl related:

ESPN makes notable mistake with Notre Dame history

It was awful but it wasn’t record setting awful…if that makes you feel any better.

I was largely a fan of ESPN’s coverage of the Fiesta Bowl and am a big fan of Dan Orlovsky’s work.  I again thought he largely shined during the game despite the result not being the way anyone visiting Fighting Irish Wire likely wanted it to.

During the game we were told that Notre Dame had never lost a game in which they led by 21 or more points at any point.

(Editor’s note – a graphic stated “Since 2004” but the announcers did not acknowledge it)

That perhaps made for more dramatic theatre but the problem with it was that it simply wasn’t true.

Notre Dame has actually blown 24 point leads before.  Most recently in happened in 1991 with the Irish collapsing at home against Tennessee after leading 31-7 before halftime.

The more famous of the happenings however was in 1974 when USC, led by Anthony Davis, overcame a 24-0 deficit to torch the Irish 55-24.

Related:

Notre Dame blows Fiesta Bowl lead – 5 Instant Takeaways

College football world reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Five plays that loomed largest in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss

Five Stars: Best and worst from Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl blunder

Notre Dame running back makes grand proclamation

A Notre Dame freshman made a grand claim following the Fiesta Bowl disaster

If you were looking for Notre Dame players to be hanging their heads and feeling down after their Fiesta Bowl unraveling then freshman running back Audric Estime was the wrong place to work.

Estime, who was one of three running backs called upon to make up for the absence of star rusher Kyren Williams, made a grand proclamation on Twitter just after Saturday’s game.

I don’t know what the odds at Tipico would be if you were to parlay those both happening (incredibly large) but if nothing else it’s great to see a key figure for the Fighting Irish going forward wasting no time to turn the page.

Related:

Notre Dame blows Fiesta Bowl lead – 5 Instant Takeaways

College football world reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Five plays that loomed largest in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss

Five Stars: Best and worst from Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl blunder

Twitter reacts to Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl collapse

Summarize what just happened in five words or fewer.

The more things change the more they stay the same.  Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for the bayou and Marcus Freeman took over as the Fighting Irish head coach just a month ago.

Freeman’s first game came in the Fiesta Bowl and everything went swimmingly for roughly 28 minutes.  And then the Irish didn’t close the first half, Oklahoma State seized the opportunity, and the Irish have yet again lost in a major bowl game.

Here is how college football Twitter reacted to the latest Fighting Irish loss in the Fiesta Bowl: