Staff Predictions: 2019 regular season
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 2, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds – Managing Editor
This season‘s schedule is chalked full of polar opposite matchup. Notre Dame‘s home schedule is chalked full of what should be sure-fire wins with the exception of USC. Meanwhile, head coach Brian Kelly and his team will take on our of the toughest road schedules in college football — traveling to take on Georgia, Michigan and Stanford. While I have full trust in Notre Dame‘s ability to take care of business in South Bend, the pure hype surrounding their roads trips seems too insurmountable to come away unscathed. SEC football is a different beast and I expect the Irish to return from Athens, Georgia, with their first loss of the season. I‘m still up in the air about those other two high-profile matchups, but I doubt this team will emerge from both Ann Arbor and Palo Alto with wins. The Big House is next level and Stanford has beat the Notre Dame seven of the last 10 years, with none of those three losses coming in Palo Alto.
SEASON PREDICTION: 10-2
Connor Mulvena – Sports Editor
You can’t help but think this Irish team is bringing with it a newfound confidence, perhaps standing a bit taller this season having proven itself to be a contender in the college football playoff era. It may not have had the fairytale ending we all hoped for, but last season was no doubt teeming with all the twists and turns of a storybook season. Through injury, quarterback controversy, and close calls, making it to the college football playoff at all was an impressive feat, and I’m sure it gave this squad a revitalized energy heading into 2019. That being said, the draft hurt. Big time. With Tranquill, Love, Tillery and some other key pieces gone, the Irish not only have talent holes to fill but leadership roles as well. Whoever steps up in the latter department will be key to filling in those talent holes in the first place. If you followed our staff’s predictions, along with the Basement Breakdown, you’d know I was a Brandon Wimbush stan. I had my doubts about Book. He has certainly grown on me, but those doubts still linger. On top of that, I’m worried about the ground game and the pass rush. I think the Irish put up a stellar fight against a brutal schedule, but ultimately, I don’t think they have the gas to return to the playoff.
SEASON PREDICTION: 9-3
Hayden Adams – Associate Sports Editor
It’s tempting to temper expectations for the season ahead, especially with the defensive pieces Notre Dame lost. However, Ian Book is at the helm with no quarterback controversy, the offensive line is more experienced, the safeties are All-American caliber and in a quarterback-centric time, Notre Dame has the best pass-rushing group in the nation bar none.
There are only three real games that threaten the Irish: at Georgia, at Michigan, and at
Stanford. Jake Fromm loses his top five receiving targets for the Bulldogs; Michigan loses their top defensive players to the NFL (and what happens without them could be seen in their 41-15 Peach Bowl loss to Florida); finally, the end- of-year trip to California is always challenging, but it’s time for the 6-game losing streak at Stanford to come to an end. The threat of trap games is real, but since Brian Kelly revamped the coaching staff after a 4-8 2016, the Irish are better equipped to handle their business.
I have faith in Brian Kelly, Ian Book, the offense, the secondary, the pass rush, and the luck of the Irish. College Football Playoff, here come the Irish (again)!
SEASON PREDICTION: 12-0
Ellen Geyer – Sports Writer
After two weeks without real competition, Notre Dame will travel to Athens without enough experience to get a win. The Irish couldn’t close the deal two seasons ago when the Bulldogs came to South Bend, and they’ll have even more trouble with this game on the road. No amount of optimism can change the fact that SEC teams just operate differently — and that competitive edge will shut Notre Dame down early on. After a loss in week four, the Irish will rebound and find a way to beat Michigan, but in typical Notre Dame fashion they’ll drop a trap game on the back half of the schedule. They should end the season floating around No. 12.
SEASON PREDICTION: 10-2
Jack Concannon – Sports Writer
I like the Irish to go 10-3 with a bowl game win this season. While it is not quite what the Irish achieved last year, double-digit wins is nothing to scoff at and would likely be accompanied by a top 15 AP Poll end of season ranking. The offense looks better than the defense, but injuries to Cole Kmet and Michael Young have cast question marks over the Irish offense. On defense, the Irish are replacing key players at defensive tackle and middle linebacker. The running offense Georgia employs is going to give the Irish fits, and road trips to Ann Arbor and Palo Alto are no laughing matter. I think the Irish will take 1 out of their 3 big road contests against Georgia, Michigan, and Stanford, and stumble against one of their other opponents who have potential to outplay their preseason projections (UVA, Virginia Tech, USC, etc). The Irish definitely have potential to exceed this projection, but I’ll bet on a bit of regression to the mean after a 2018 season that saw the Irish win a slew of close games against the likes of Ball State, Vanderbilt, USC, and Pittsburgh.
SEASON PREDICTION: 10-2