Munster powerhouse Farrell will partner Bundee Aki in midfield, with Robbie Henshaw dropping out of Ireland's match squad due to a dead leg.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour.More news: Venezuela: I won't let United States aid cross the border, says President Maduro
As expected, Quinn Roux starts in place of Devin Toner who has an ankle injury, Sean O'Brien gets the nod with Josh Van der Flier moved onto the bench and Jack Conan wears the number eight shirt, with CJ Stander also out of action.
Schmidt last week bemoaned his side's habit of starting slowly having failed to win their opening Six Nations game for the third time in four years, and said on Thursday that the bruising defeat had stung for much of the week. It's a knock on top of a knock.
Toner's absence has exacerbated the prior lock losses of Iain Henderson to a finger problem and Tadhg Beirne to a knee complaint.More news: Epic Games utilizes Fortnite advertisements to thwart Apex Legends
"It does make it hard; the problem is he maybe could have played".
Asked whether Kearney would've been full-back if Henshaw was fit, Schmidt replied: "Probably once Garry Ringrose was ruled out it was going to be [a case of] trying to keep a little continuity as best we can and get as cohesive as we can in a short space of time". It's a great opportunity to get him in.
'We're just going to have to forge ahead, but it's an exciting opportunity to give Chris Farrell a run against Scotland.More news: Police tell Waze to stop pinpointing their checkpoints
This is Schmidt's last Six Nations in charge of Ireland before he stands down after this year's World Cup in Japan.