Notre Dame Fighting Irish Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Talent-wise, there’s no reason why this can’t and shouldn’t be another double-digit win season overall.
The coaching staff built up around Marcus Freeman is terrific, Freeman himself will be fine in time, and now it’s just a question of being able to handle the home games and not misfiring against the good teams the Irish should be able to beat.
And that’s the thing about the latter part of the Brian Kelly era – other than the 4-8 outlier of 2016; just blow that season off for the purposes of this rant. There might have been ugly playoff losses, but his teams never, ever lost to anyone that wasn’t good.
Look at the past few seasons. The losses came last year to Cincinnati and an Oklahoma State team that should’ve won the Big 12 title. In 2020 the losses were to Clemson in the ACC Championship and in the CFP against eventual national champion Alabama.
The 45-14 loss at Michigan in 2019 wasn’t like losing to – say – Virginia, and if you take out that 2016 clunker, you have to go all the way back to 2014 in a wild 43-40 thriller against Northwestern for the last time the program lost to a team that didn’t win at least nine games.
In other words, Marcus Freeman, it’s okay to lose at Ohio State. It’s going to be okay to drop the game against Clemson, and it might even be fine to lose the season finale at USC, but that’s it for the games on the slate that would get any semblance of a free pass.
Set The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Regular Season Win Total At … 9.5
At North Carolina is dangerous. Win it.
At Syracuse is going to be a hornet’s nest. Win it.
BYU in Las Vegas is going to be tougher than anyone believes – win that, too.
To up the pressure ante, let’s just say it – if Brian Kelly was still the head coach, this is a ten-win regular season, minimum.
Because Freeman and the changes are X factors, assume a loss at Ohio State to start – that would be put in the lean L column no matter who was the head coach – and then it comes down to at least splitting against Clemson and USC, and not missing against anyone else.
Nine regular season wins and a bowl victory would be a good first year, 11 wins overall would be great, and 12-1 is a reasonable goal if everything breaks right.