Staff Season Predictions
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, April 21, 2017
Unlike last year’s squad, this Notre Dame team will not be coming into the season with top-10 expectations. But that’s far from the only difference between the two teams, as this year’s squad has a lot of new faces surrounding head coach Brian Kelly.
Early results appear promising — last year’s young team has a year of experience under its belt, and the new coaches have those players feeling confident about the upcoming year.
But the schedule is more daunting than last year’s as well, with games against Georgia, USC and Stanford standing out amongst a host of other difficult matchups.
This year’s squad won’t go 4-8 again, but it probably won’t live up to last year’s immense expectations, either.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 8-4
Assistant Managing Editor
To be honest, nothing would surprise me about Notre Dame this season.
This is almost a completely different team from last year’s 4-8 squad. The Irish have a new quarterback, new offensive and defensive coordinators, a new strength and conditioning program and, most importantly, a new attitude.
These things all bode well for the long-term future of the program, but how much they matter next season specifically remains to be seen.
If Brandon Wimbush lives up to the considerable hype surrounding him, the Irish could post 10 wins. But I still have concerns about a defense that has no pass rush and is installing a new rover position.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 8-4
The Irish have experienced a complete attitude change and revamp over the offseason, allowing the team to leave last year’s nightmare in the past.
With a fresh face under center surrounded by veterans on the offensive line and a receiving corps with a year of experience under its belt, the offense is poised to do some big things.
However, the SEC matchup against Georgia in just the second week of the season could pose a challenge for the Irish. Stanford has become Notre Dame’s Achilles heel in recent years, and Michigan State on the road could also pose a problem.
Overall, the Irish need this season to be a defining one. They need, and want, to find themselves in the playoff conversation again.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 9-3
Associate Sports Editor
Despite all the changes for the Irish this offseason, there’s been a lot of positivity around the program. From top to bottom, there seems to be a motivation and a hunger to prove that last season was a fluke and Notre Dame football under Brian Kelly is here to stay as a perennially ranked team.
I expect the team will come out hot against Temple and carry that momentum into a big game against a very talented Georgia team at home. With a win, the Irish prove they are back and ultimately could run the table with maybe only one or two losses. But with a loss, there will be a lot of questions as the season goes on.
I’m an optimist, and maybe call me foolish, but I think this team has the pieces and now the experience. And Wimbush is the real deal. Look out for Notre Dame in the playoff hunt once again.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 10-2
The Irish should be markedly better in 2017 than they were the year before.
But the team’s schedule will likely improve from last year’s slate of fellow underachievers, so it’s unlikely the Irish see a big jump in wins. Georgia and USC could be among the best teams in the country, and they just have too much talent to not be favored.
In Michigan State, Miami and Stanford, Notre Dame plays three good teams in true road games, and the Irish do not have a recent history of winning those games.
Notre Dame may not lose each of those five games, but in a schedule with many more strong opponents, it’s hard to be certain they win each of the other seven too.
This team was terrible last year; one great offseason can only do so much.
REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 7-5