On Monday, ESPN’s Bill Connelly published a piece that examines how 20 of the best teams in the country could become contenders for the National Championship.

For Notre Dame, Connelly has just 3 primary hurdles the Fighting Irish will have to clear in order to reach that status.

Connelly highlighted Notre Dame’s offensive efficiency issues from last season, which showed up in a big way during the Irish’s loss to Cincinnati.

He also questioned whether or not Notre Dame will have a star quarterback this season — typically a key component of any championship contender. Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne will be competing for the starting job during fall camp. The winner will replace Jack Coan, who led Notre Dame to an 11-1 regular season in 2021.

Perhaps most importantly, Notre Dame will need to shore up the back end of its defense. Kyle Hamilton was often injured last season, and the Fighting Irish replaced him with Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph. Notre Dame finished the year ranked 15th in defensive SP+ — not bad, but that’s a mark that would need to be improved for Notre Dame to be a realistic contender in 2022.

Overall, Connelly slotted Notre Dame in a tier with Clemson and Texas A&M. Those programs also rank behind Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.

Notre Dame opens the 2022 season with Ohio State on Sept. 3.