Every summer, the world of college football discussion stays consistent on the same things: Heisman contenders, National Championship contenders, and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a special place in the hearts of diehard college football fans as they have been a part of some of the most important events in the sport’s history. Even though they haven’t had the most success over the last decade, they are always in the discussion for Heisman contenders and a possible National Championship.
Obviously, there are many teams that are in the National Championship discussion each year, but Notre Dame always seems to have some intrigue regardless of the roster. We know they will always play a tough schedule playing as an independent, it’s just a matter of the talent matching the strength of schedule. This looked to be the year that the match had been made. The Fighting Irish had plenty of skill players returning and and good defense returning, the only possible question was at the quarterback position. Former quarterback Everett Golson led them to a National Championship berth only to get beaten by Alabama in 2012. As you all know, he is know playing with Florida State after being benched late in the season last year for this year’s starter Malik Zaire. Zaire showed promise in 2014 but still needed to show he could take it to the next level.
After the Golson transfer, Zaire was now the starting quarterback going into the 2015 season and had some high expectations. As stated previously, Notre Dame returned plenty of players at skill positions to be dangerous as long as they got good play from the quarterback. When the season opened against Texas, Zaire was said to be going up against a tough Longhorn defense. He made quick work of the Longhorns by completing 19 of his 22 passes for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns, including an absolutely beautiful throw down the right sideline to Will Fuller for 66 yards. He looked to be able to make all the throws required to carry an offense toward a National Championship.
In week two, the Irish went on the road to face Virginia. The Cavaliers are an improving team in the ACC and would provide another solid test for Zaire and the Irish. Zaire seemed to struggle just a bit through the air but used his athletic ability to move the sticks with 87 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, this would lead to Zaire’s getting hurt on a designed run off tackle. He stayed down after appearing to get his ankle rolled on by a tackling defender. He was helped off the field and taken to the locker room and being diagnosed with a broken ankle. This could potentially be a monumental loss for the Irish. The National Championship hopes were crushed and the Irish were going to struggle to hold on to beat Virginia. At least, that’s what most thought. Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer, stepped in and quickly changed the tune of disappointment among the Irish faithful. The 6’4, 230 lb sophomore came into the game and completed 8 of his 12 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. He entered the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter. The Cavaliers eventually took a 27-26 lead with two minutes to go in the game. The game was fully on Kizer’s shoulders in what would be the Irish’s final drive of the game. After moving the offense down the field, the sophomore found leading receiver Will Fuller for the go ahead touchdown with 12 seconds to go in the game. After completing the 2-point conversion, the Irish now lead 34-27 with just those 12 seconds remaining. Kizer showed that the moment wasn’t too big for him, staying poised on the road until the very end.
Now that DeShone Kizer has shown what he can do, the Irish fans have something positive to look to moving forward. With Malik Zaire being sidelined for the remainder of the season, the National Championship hopes fall squarely on DeShone Kizer’s shoulders. Can the sophomore lead the Irish to the College Football Playoff and eventually back to the National Championship game? After a game suffering a monumental loss, the Irish and DeShone Kizer have a monumental opportunity. The journey under Kizer begins as the Irish host Georgia Tech in week three, another good test.
Fantasy Outlook: Although, he has played just one quarter for the Irish, Kizer looks ready to take the reigns of being the Notre Dame quarterback. I think he is worthy of adding in most leagues and should give you very nice numbers moving forward. He has a nice running game to support him and an elite wide receiver in Will Fuller to throw to. In 2 or 3 QB leagues, he is a must add. As far as DFS goes, his value will obviously depend on the pricing moving forward. As slates haven’t yet been announced for week 3, it will be interesting how he is priced at home against Georgia Tech.