On the Record: Predicting Notre Dame Football’s 2017 Record

I hate preseason predictions to be honest.  That said, they still make for good debate and it is fun to go back in November and look at how wrong – or right – we were just months earlier when confidence was sky high and optimism was brimming.

The 2017 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are nearly impossible to predict.  There is almost an entirely new staff, a new starting quarterback, and new offensive and defensive schemes implemented over the off-season.  With so many variables, neither a bounce back season or another disappointment should really come as a surprise.

So with all that in mind, Greg and I both predicted Notre Dame’s wins and loss for 2017.  I took it a step further and predicted a score.

Week 1: vs. Temple

Honestly, I really don’t like this game at all.  The distractions of the new stadium on top of the first game with a new offense and a new defense; and a first time starting quarterback all against a team that has won 20 games the last two years.  Similarly, Temple will be implementing new offenses and defenses with a first year head coach, but there is still just a whole lot about this game that worries me.  Notre Dame should be favored and should win the game, but I think the Irish are going to come out pretty slow this weekend before adding a late score to make it look a little easier than it actually was.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Temple 21

Week 2: vs. Georgia

If there’s a lot I don’t like in the Temple game, there’s a lot that I hate about this game.  Georgia isn’t exactly the class of the SEC but they do have two of the best running backs in the country and Notre Dame isn’t strong in the middle of its defense.  That is really not a good combination of occurrences for Notre Dame’s chances.  Worsening our chances here is the fact that UHND and friends will be at this game and our record in games we all attend together is really atrocious.

Greg and I differ on this one.  He is predicting a Notre Dame win in this one, but I am projecting this one as a loss right now.  I think Notre Dame scores late to make it look better, but this one will have the feel of a game that Notre Dame is in on the scoreboard from start to finish but never really feels like they are.

Prediction: L, Notre Dame 27, Georgia 29

Week 3: at Boston College

Notre Dame has won the last five games against the Eagles in the “Holy War”, but only one of them could be considered an easy win.  In 2010, Notre Dame beat up on Boston College 31-13 and honestly it didn’t feel like close.  Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead before falling off a bit.  Two years ago the Eagles defenses stymied the high powered Notre Dame offense with the Irish holding on for a 3 point win.  This time around I think Notre Dame takes care of business.  There will be the emotional drain of a close loss to Georgia but there won’t be the distraction of Fenway Park or a night game.  Notre Dame tends to do well in noon kickoffs under Brian Kelly (Navy last year was 11:30 kickoff).

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Boston College 10

Week 4: at Michigan State

The 2016 Most Underachieving Bowl takes places at the end of September in East Lansing.  Michigan State was just as bad, if not worse, than Notre Dame last year even though the Spartans did get the head to head win in Notre Dame Stadium.  Notre Dame won the last time they went to Spartan Stadium in 2012 and I think they will again this year.  Mike Elko’s defense looks strong for the second weekend in a row and Brandon Wimbush starts to shine against the Spartans just as Everett Golson did in 2012.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 13

Week 5: vs. Miami (OH)

The first “easy” game of the year for Notre Dame.  The 5:00 kickoff is just weird and will disrupt the normal pre-game routine a bit for the Irish, but other than that, Notre Dame shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Red Hawks.  Chuck Martin does know Brian Kelly very well so this one might be close for a while, but eventually the more talented team takes control and cruises to an easy victory to end September at 3-1 with questions still lingering about how good this team really is.

Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Miami(OH) 17

Week 6: @ North Carolina

I’ve seen this game listed as a loss by a lot of prognosticators, but I think Notre Dame makes the trip to Chapel Hill and comes home victorious.  One area of concern is that the Tar Heels are the same team that exposed Brian Vangorder’s defense initially in 2014.  Remember up until that game the BVG fist pumping memes were all the rage and we all were asking how Notre Dame’s defense got so good.  Ah the short lived Vangorder honeymoon.

Could Carolina do the same against Mike Elko?  North Carolina did hang 50 on Wake Forest in 2015 when they last saw a Mike Elko defense.  That was with a really bad Wake Forest team though.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, North Carolina 21

Week 7: vs USC

Notre Dame will have a bye week after going 5-1 to start the season.  The Irish will come in ranked in the high teens and the atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium will be pretty electric for USC’s biannual visit.  Unfortunately, I don’t see Notre Dame being able to hang with the Trojans this year.  It will be a little closer than it was a year ago, but Notre Dame runs out of gas in the second half to fall to 5-2 on the season while USC remains unbeaten.  The Trojans will lose later in the year, but not this day unfortunately.  This is the one loss that Greg and I both agree on.  So expect the Irish to pull off the upset.

Prediction: L, Notre Dame 24, USC 38

Week 8: vs. N.C State

Coming off the loss to USC, the Irish will be looking to take out their frustrations on someone.  NC State will be on the receiving end of that frustration.  Notre Dame should have a bit of an extra edge after last year’s game during Hurricane Matthew.  Notre Dame should not have a difficult time in this game and gets back on track with a relatively easy home victory.  This would push the Irish to 6-2.

Prediction: W, Notre Dame 34, NC State 17

Week 9: vs. Wake Forest

The Elko Bowl!  Wake Forest returns to South Bend to face their former defensive coordinator (Elko), linebackers coach (Clark Lea), and director of player personnel (Bill Rees).  Two years ago Elko’s defense kept Notre Dame in check most of the game with Deshone Kizer adding a late touchdown to give the Irish a 28-7 win.  Despite the win, the optics looked really bad with Wake sporting a 3-6 record coming into the game.  Notre Dame fell out of the 4th playoff spot before essentially removing themselves from consideration a week later with their 19-13 over an equally bad Boston College team.

On paper Notre Dame should be able to clobber Wake Forest, but will Dave Clawson’s knowledge of Elko’s defense keep this one close?  I think it will.  Notre Dame wins, but it’s closer than it should be.

Prediction: W, Notre Dame 34, Wake Forest 24

Week 10: @ Miami

This is another game a lot of people have as a loss – looking at you Greg.  I just don’t see it.  Yeah Miami is ranked and they are supposed to be better in year two under Mark Richt, but this is still a football team that Notre Dame beat last year during a 4-8 campaign.  That is what I keep going back to.  If Notre Dame beat Miami last year with a pretty bad team, I think they beat them this year too.  Maybe that’s too just thinking about this one too simply.  I dunno., perhaps.

I do know that this game will be a test of the work of Matt Balis though.  As Notre Dame enters November and plays a game in humid Miami, we’ll see just how much of a different Balis has made.  Last year Notre Dame played Navy in Jacksonville, Florida in the first weekend of November. That didn’t go so well.

Prediction: W, Notre Dame 31, Miami 27

Week 11: vs. Navy

A year after Navy beat Notre Dame in Brian Kelly’s first season (2010), the Irish pounded them at home the following season 56-14.  I don’t think it will be quite that bad this year, but I think it will be close to it.  Notre Dame gets Navy at home on Senior Day and they will be honoring Knute Rockne with the Rockne series jerseys they announced last week.   Senior Day and the jerseys could be a distraction, but they did the same against Army on Senior Day in 2006 and it didn’t make a difference.  It won’t this year either.

Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Navy 17

Week 12: @ Stanford

If all goes as I have planned here, Notre Dame would enter this game at 9-2 against a potentially highly ranked Stanford team with a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl on the line.  Notre Dame should have beat Stanford easily last year and they should have beat them in 2015.  The Cardinal are replacing a lot of lost talent this year so there is a chance that Notre Dame is the higher ranked team if they do enter this contest at 9-2.

This is another one most are chalking up as a loss this year, but by the time the Irish roll into Palo Alto on Thanksgiving weekend, I think we will see a much better team than the one I think will lose to Georgia in week two.  If that’s true, this is a win.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Stanford 21

Boston CollegeWINWIN
Michigan StateWINWIN
North CarolinaWINWIN
Wake ForestWINWIN

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  1. Reading these comments, I see that there are some details
    that most of you guys clearly have failed to understand. The
    chief of those is the improvement in physicality and
    conditioning of this team. 49-16 dismantling of Temple.
    And, that was done by playing well, but not exactly superb.
    In other words, lots of room for improvement. They beat
    Georgia, handily. Georgia was no spectacular team last
    season. True freshman QB and trying to keep up with ND’s
    offense? Please. Now, I am making my comments with the
    benefit of having seen game one. Even still, I was believing
    going into the first game that this team would be totally
    different. This team will look very similar to the 2012 team,
    with one exception: the offense carries the team, as opposed
    to the defense. As well, this offense steamrolls most
    opponents. 11-1 or 12-0, playoff berth. You have just seen
    this team run for 422 yards. An SEC team does that against
    an FCS opponent and ESPN is talking about how dominant
    the team is. Temple is an 8-win bowl team and ND throttled
    them by playing solid, but not great. This is LSU with a QB who
    can actually play.

  2. If you factor in the number of opposition players arrested during the season, ND is undefeated. It is all in the timing as to when crimes are committed.

  3. I’m frankly afraid of making any predictions for the season at least until I see the Temple game. There are so many variables. I don’t trust BK at this point, but the players have been saying all the right things. And I do like some of the new assistant coaches, even if my faith in BK has been shattered. I personally think they need a NY Day 6 bowl to restore some confidence in BK’s ability to turn things around. However, I think 9-3 definitely brings BK back next year, and probably 8-4 will too, regardless of how I feel. Worse then that and I think BK is in real danger.

    That all being said, I’ll be rooting for ND to win every game. I’d love nothing more than to win every game and shock the world. I have no wish to see BK fail, because if he fails, ND fails. If BK were to redeem himself, honestly, I’d be happier then a pig in…well you know. Honestly, it’d be a lot easier if ND does succeed now rather than face the prospect of a new coach starting from square one.

    Against Temple, I’d like to see a blowout. I know, that sounds rather obvious, but Temple is going through their own changes right now. A blowout would help settle some, not all, but some nerves. A win is a must though. If they were to lose, well that would be a bad omen for the remainder of the season(I know, stating the obvious again).

    1. Damien,
      Good to hear from you again! 8-4 really yanks my chain though. As I said once before – What is 8-4? Answer…it is Dan Devine’s worst season…and a rerun of 2014! I doubt that it brings Coach Kelly back, but that is a recurring nightmare that wakes me up in a cold sweat.
      My own thoughts though are like yours on Temple. We need a pretty smooth performance on Saturday if we are going to go 9-3, or get to Southside’s 10-2 threshold. Well, I’ll be leaving for South Bend early Friday morning to see my 89 year old mother and to go to LEGENDS for lunch with my brother, then to the PEP RALLY at the Rockne Memorial!
      It makes life worth living (at least if they play well). God bless you Damien.
      Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

  4. Best case scenario 6-6. Worst case 4-8. Either way pack your bags Kelly. Four lopsided losses will be to Georgia, SC,
    Stanford, and Miami. Could easily get upset by NC, Wake, Navy, and Mich st.

    1. But BK has a lot of built-in excuses for losing already….new DC, new QB, six new coaches, an AD with low expectations, a student body that prides itself on sticking it to football players, fundraising, ect. My guess is that BK doesn’t leave until something better comes along.

    2. Jeff, have you ever thought of applying your expertise and remarkable grasp of Notre Dame football and monetizing it by betting your brilliant insights?

      I would be more than happy to be your huckleberry.

      All you have to do is whistle. You do know how to whistle, right?

  5. 8-4 at best – they’ll lose to Georgia, Southern Cal, MSU & Stanford.

    Reference – ‘Marketing Smoke and Mirrors’ by John Vannie.

    Hope I’m wrong.

    1. Terence Vannie is noted for two things:

      (1) laughably pathetic predictions, just look them all up.
      (2) He seeks clickbait from the NOTRE DAME ALT NOT LOYAL HATE SITE.

      He knows his audience, and with some improvement he may rise to the level of pandering.

      Terence, you have posted here many times. You have earned the right to set forth your predictions and the internal analyses which drive your predictions. Don’t outsource your clarity. You are better than that.

  6. Frank,
    If I read this right you are predicting us to go undefeated on the road this year? Interesting. If so, that would be the most astounding turnaround of its kind that I can ever remember! We have not exactly been road warriors lately! I hope you are correct though I’ll wait for some kind of evidence to believe it!

    On the other hand, you have us losing two at home outright, and bumbling through the home opener against Temple. So we are going to sweep @BC, @MSU, @North Carolina, @MIAMI, and @Stanford but go 5-2 at home, beating nobody of any real substance except perhaps an underrated NC State team? And wind up 10-2.

    MIAMI is totally waiting for us, just like Texas was last year (as my brother Roger, who lives in Austin, kept telling me all spring and summer of 2016. I’m telling you, MIAMI is just a waitin’…just a waitin’. Unlike Texas, they don’t open with us, but as soon as we show our “O” and “D”…at the latest against Georgia…they’ll be putting some practice time aside for us every day – just like Texas did all spring and all of August… just a waitin’. So I think Greg may be right here to project o loss in Florida, but I certainly hope he is wrong!

    On the other hand, I totally agree with the two posters who see Temple (a team that I do respect) as the victim of a lot of pent up fury. I think Temple gets trampled…the victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    I still say 9-3 (as I posted earlier on this very site) unless we sweep the @rivalry twins of BC and MSU. If that happens, I see us as 10-2 as you and Greg do. But although MSU has lost a lot of starters from a team that wasn’t very good (except against us, of course) BC returns 17 starters from a bowl winning team…and they are hungry (like we are, admittedly)…and they too are just a waitin’…just a waitin’!

    Lord God Almighty…college football – how I love it so! Let the games begin!

    Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

  7. Frank , you and Greg are in my ball park of predictions for 2017. My main concern is getting through the September schedule. I believe they can beat Georgia. Irish need to go undefeated in September. Looming ahead is USC in South Bend in October. This is going to be a huge upset at home in South Bend –despite USC QB Heisman candidate. Irish will run the table heading into Palo Alto last game in November against Stanford. It will be the game to detirmine Irish playoff hopes. I see Irish going 11-1 or 12-0 under QB Brandon Wimbush.

    1. Southside, If they are 11-0 going into the Stanford game, I’ll blow you myself. Either you see the sunshine in everything, or you got some Rose colored glasses you’re looking at. I had them at 8-4 last year, what was your prediction for the 2016 season just out of curiosity?

      1. Just for clarification, I meant I had them going 8-4 for my prediction of the 2016 season, and we all see how that ended up.

      2. Yo Zipp , I had Irish predicted at 11-1 going into 2016 season. After 2015 finish with close losses to Clemson/Stanford — Most College Football analyst across country including a few UHND authors and ESPN’s Herb “what’s his name” predicted 11 wins in 2016. I’m going for 11 wins in 2017 and thinking of changing my prediction to 10 wins. Just to see if you’d be “on your knees” for fans predicting 10 wins. Quite a few out there predicting 10 wins — including UHND authors. Btw , do you own a black trench coat — and the weird guy hanging out near the kid’s play ground in my neighborhood ?

  8. Love your optimism, Frank.
    A most difficult schedule . . .and you predict 10-2!
    I do agree ND will look like a better-coached team, and it will be, but, again, many land mine games.

  9. I sure hope either of you guys are right but I don’t see it. ND won’t ever score late in a game due to ND offensive penalties called by the opposing teams’ officials. Also a number of NDs’ opponents will win ND games late in the 4th quarter due to ND defensive penalties called by the opposing teams’ officials. We have seen this for years, nobody does/says anything so I expect more of this in 2017.

    1. T. Kazmar,
      As I have said before, we need Independent referees, which we used to have when there were 10 independent teams. Today there are only four independents, including BYU, but I think that is enough to go back to Independent refs. I’m a little less concerned with 4th quarter calls (if we play like we should play at Notre Dame, the third string, the reserves, the walk-ons, and the waterboy will be in most games by then). But I am concerned about some of these refs making “statements” on national TV about how they feel about the difficulty of making targeting calls, which falls on their shoulders. Notre Dame and BYU are particularly convenient patsies for purposefully “missing” obvious calls on “concussion plays” that target ND players, and making silly ass ejections of our guys from time to time (and BYU guys too) just to make some kind of point about the poorly written rule. Of course the whole problem could be solved simply by calling “unnecessary roughness” from time to time, and letting the booth add “targeting” if they see the need, though some rewriting of the actual rule might be in order as well. This “roughness” technique can’t be used in every situation, of course, but it could be used in some cases, and should be. I just think it is downright evil to risk our guys’ safety (and careers, ultimately) so a few refs with chips on their shoulders and axes to grind can have a national TV stage to make their points. Make your point with your mouths and your pens, not with some college kid’s health or eligibility to play in the next game.

      Bruce G. Curme
      La Crosse, Indiana

  10. You know how fired up this team is going to be for Temple, both on the offensive side and defensive side? I really think ND is going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder this season on both sides of the ball to prove they are for real. I know that many of the fans need to “see” that to believe it but it really feels different this year with all the fresh faces, new coaching staff, etc. I think this team kills Temple in the opener. I’m not worried in the least bit about this game. I think our offense dominates both the running game and passing game and I think we keep the pedal down this game in true blowout fashion. Defensively, I think we play aggressive and cause a couple turnovers in this first game. We’ll see but this is my feelings about this first game.

  11. Frank, not for nothing:

    You listed three guys from a certain area in your top 5.
    McGlinchey from Philly, Nelson from Red Bank, and Wimbush from “Nawt Joisey”

    I’d give you pretzels, pizza, cheesesteaks and the Sopranos, Frank Rizzo, even Michael J. Stavola.

    But give us young’uns some cold comfort on a heavy reliance on players from the I-95 corridor!

  12. I won’t render a predictions until after Temple. I think Temple should be a blow out and if it isn’t they will have many problems. The Offensive Line should dominate and the defense will be playing against a first time starter. If it isn’t a blow out ND is going to have trouble this year.

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