Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Notre Dame Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Four words: Bob Stoops, just sayin’.
Okay, now with that out of the way … when is Notre Dame going to be a real and true national title contender under Brian Kelly?
Even with the run to the 2012 BCS Championship, it all seemed like a mirage, confirmed by the trouncing by Alabama in a season remembered as much for catfishing than big wins. But give Kelly credit – he did get the program close to the pin.
With that, two ten-win seasons in the last three, and with just the one 4-8 clunker in 2016 in his eight-year run, he’s been a solid head coach. But does Notre Dame in any way feel or seem like a program trending up?
It’s as if the Irish world is resigned to the fate of living the far-too-confortable life of the college football above-average. It’s Notre Dame, and there aren’t any realistic expectations of being in the national championship picture. Worst of all, where’s the buzz?
To be fair, Kelly always has to deal with one of the nastiest schedules in college football – there was hardly any shame in losing to Georgia, at Miami, and at Stanford last season – and there’s something to be said for winning ten games no matter how it happened, especially with a fun brand of football.
But is this it? The guy has had one season in South Bend with fewer than three losses, and now there’s going to be a massive breakthrough as Notre Dame becomes the next Clemson, Georgia, or Oklahoma?
Last year’s Irish looked the part of a College Football Playoff team up until mid-November, and then Miami dropped a Turnover Chain bomb in the 41-8 debacle – and that’s the problem. Lately, Kelly’s teams fizzle.
Notre Dame can hang around with anyone, and it will look amazing from time to time, but it also lost its last five regular season finales as part of a 9-12 record in the last five Novembers.
As always, there’s enough talent in place to come up with a good year, and the systems on both sides are sound, but there are too many dangerous game to think that this might be when it all comes together.
And there’s way too much tinkering still to do on both sides of the ball.
The O line isn’t going to get better without Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. The leading rusher (Josh Adams) and top receiver (Equanimeous St. Brown) are gone; there’s still a question mark about the passing attack; and too many positions are still up for grabs.
The defensive side is going to be good again. Te’von Coney leads a strong linebacking corps, Julian Love is a terrific corner, and the line will quietly be outstanding.
Again, this is a very good team with a very good coach. But it’s Notre Dame. Are you excited about another season with 8-to-10 wins? Yeah, as long as this is the year Kelly shows that something special might be brewing.
He doesn’t have to win a national championship, or even get into the College Football Playoff, but it has to feel like the run is coming. This has to be when Notre Dame starts playing the part of a big-thing team again.
Oh, and by the way, the Irish have won 160 games since the end of the Lou Holtz run in 1997. Bob Stoops won 190 games from 1999 to 2016.