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Notre Dame & Preseason Projections

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Notre Dame will attempt to finish in the top 10 in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-93. (BGI/Bill Panzica)

A little later this month, if not next week, the preseason college football magazines will begin hitting the newsstands.

That didn’t use to occur until August. However, just like the recruiting calendar, everything has been accelerated in today’s world where “instant news” is the demand.

The months of May and June have become college football’s buffer period between the “way too early” preseason polls that come out right after the championship game in January, and the Associated Press poll in August a couple of weeks before the opening kickoff. While digital media rules in today’s landscape, the print appearance of periodicals such as Athlon, Sporting News or Lindy’s generally serve as the appetizer to the commencement of a new season.

Early in his Notre Dame head coaching career from 1986-96, Lou Holtz developed an understanding of how preseason rankings work for the Fighting Irish.

"If they think we're going to be good, they'll put us in the top 3,” Holtz began. “If they think we're going to be decent, they'll put us in the top 6. If they think we have a chance to be good, we'll be in the top 10.

“If they think we're not going to be that good, they'll put us in the top 15. And if they think we're going to be horrendous, they'll put us somewhere between 15 and 20.”

So far among seven different outlets, we’ve seen Notre Dame for 2019 ranked as high as No. 5 ( and as low as No. 13 (USA Today). The Irish will attempt to finish in the top 10 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 (No. 4) and 1993 (No. 2).

Since its most recent “Golden Age” from 1988-93, Notre Dame football has not been quite the same, and it can be partly reflected in the AP poll.

In the 25 football seasons from 1994-2018, Notre Dame was ranked 16 times in the Associated Press preseason top 25 — and last year marked the first time in that stretch it finished higher (No. 4) than where it started (No. 12).

Conversely, in the nine other seasons the Fighting Irish were not ranked in the AP preseason top 25 from 1994-2018, they placed in the final rankings five times — including the top 10 in both 2012 (No. 4) and 2005 (No. 9). Those two seasons plus last year mark the only three times since 1994 Notre Dame concluded the campaign amongst the top 10.

Here were the preseason AP rankings in head coach Brian Kelly’s previous eight seasons:

2010: Not ranked

Finished 8-5 and unranked.

2011: No. 16

Finished 8-5 and unranked.

2012: Unranked

Finished 12-1 and No. 4 (the highest since No. 2 in 1993)

2013: No. 14

Finished 9-4 and No. 20.

2014: No. 17

Finished 8-5 and unranked.

2015: No. 11

Finished 10-3 and No. 11.

2016: No. 10

Finished 4-8 and unranked.

2017: No. 28

Finished 10-3 and No. 11.

2018: No. 12

Finished 12-1 and No. 5.


Talk about it inside Rockne’s Roundtable

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