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Since the disastrous 2016 season which saw Notre Dame stumble to a 4-8 record, Brian Kelly vowed to turnaround the program. That’s exactly what he has done, winning no less than 10 games in the four years following, leading the Irish to a sparkling 43-8 record. Two berths into the College Football Playoff and an odd ACC regular season title included also.
This impressive run still doesn’t give the computers at ESPN much confidence that the Irish can replicate what they’ve done over that time frame, as they expect them to take a dip this fall. Their SP+ is projecting the Irish to finish with just 8 wins, their lowest total since the 2016 season.
It’s just a project and we have all seen the Irish outperform this metric. Should you be worried? Maybe a little, with a brand new quarterback, 4 of 5 offensive line positions gone from last year, and questions surrounding the pass catchers.
Why shouldn’t you worry, well the new quarterback, Jack Coan, has experience that none of the others have in his position group. Cain Madden was added to the offensive line group via the transfer portal and Brian Kelly has recruited extremely well on the line. Same with the receivers, they’re just green.
We haven’t even touched the defense, where Marcus Freeman takes over for Clark Lea and that group shouldn’t miss a beat. It might even be better than last years group, that held the national champions, Alabama, to their lowest point total of the season.
Will there be games that are closer than expected, sure, but that doesn’t mean the Irish can’t pull out those wins. If I had to bet, Notre Dame outperforms ESPN’s SP+ and get’s to the double-digit win threshold for the fifth season in a row.