We’re just a couple days away from the official start of the 2018 Notre Dame football season and in no time we’ll know just what the Irish look like this year. Before then, we decided to look into the crystal ball and try to predict what Notre Dame’s 2018 record will look like before they play an official snap.
Greg and I did this last year too and between the two of us, we weren’t that far off. I predicted a 10-2 season with losses to USC and Georgia while Greg had the Irish correct at 9-3 with losses to USC, Miami, and Stanford. Between the two of us, if we combined out hits and misses, we were pretty close. This year, our picks are even more similar.
Week 1 – vs. Michigan
It’s the game of the week in week one of the college football season. ESPN College Gameday is in town. By the time the ball kicks off on Saturday night, the hype meter will be off the charts. Michigan brings a stout defense into town but to date Jim Harbaugh hasn’t built an offense for the Wolverines. He has a shiny new toy in Shea Patterson, but guess what? Shea Patterson isn’t Andrew Luck. I think Notre Dame wins a close game this weekend to start the season. It might not be pretty, but unlike the Georgia game last year, the Irish come out on top in a hard fought contest.
This game will set the tone for the entire season. I can see two very different outcomes to the year for Notre Dame depending on the result.
Notre Dame 17, Michigan 13
Week 2 – vs. Ball State
The Irish might come out just a bit sluggish a week after an emotional affair like the Michigan game, but by the second half the Irish will turn it on and Irish fans may just see Phil Jurkovec in action for the first time in mop up duty. This is a game that shouldn’t be close even if it is a bit closer on the scoreboard than it actually is at half-time. Notre Dame wins going away.
Notre Dame 52, Ball State 17
Week 3 – vs. Vanderbilt
There might be storylines written about a SEC team coming to town, but let’s be honest, Vanderbilt might technically be in the SEC but they aren’t a “SEC” team. Derek Mason hasn’t been able to bring any of what he saw at Stanford to Nashville with him and is on the hot seat this year. Mason said over the summer that at the time he wasn’t worried about a trip to South Bend, but he ought to be. Vanderbilt is overmatched in this one and Notre Dame will win this one easily.
Notre Dame 42, Vanderbilt 10
Week 4 – @ Wake Forest
Notre Dame improves to 4-0 on the season to set up a showdown with Stanford to end September. Last fall the Demon Deacons came to South Bend and what looked like a blowout turned into a much closer than it should have been contest. Notre Dame suffered a few injuries and the Wake Forest defense got the best of the Irish defense in the second half half. Dave Clawson will get his shots in on his former assistant’s (Clark Lea) defense again this fall, but Notre Dame wins this one again.
Notre Dame 35, Wake Forest 21
Week 5 – vs. Stanford
Notre Dame enters this game 4-0 and just outside the top 5 for another epic showdown with Stanford. The Cardinal has won the last three games against Notre Dame even though the Irish lead – and looked in control at times – in all three games. That changes this year. In another close, hard fought game; the Irish come out on top and send Notre Dame firmly into the playoff debate. I am predicting a close score in this one but one of these days, just one of these days, Notre Dame will finally beat Stanford handily like they are fully capable of and were on their way to doing in 2016 and 2017 before ultimately coughing up leads and losing.
Notre Dame 17, Stanford 10
Week 6 – @ Virginia Tech
Coming off a win over Stanford, Notre Dame will be one of the most talked about teams in the country heading into this one. The Irish will make their first trip to Lane Stadium a week after an emotional roller coaster which makes me feel not good about this one. Notre Dame has struggled in environments like this for years and even with all of the work Notre Dame has done to practice “chaos” situations, unfortunately I see the Irish coming up just short in this one as The Sandman comes for Notre Dame’s undefeated season.
Personally, a loss here for Notre Dame would be devastating. I worked with a couple of Hookie alum and I have made life miserable on my office since my Eagles have won their Super Bowl. If Tech pulls this off their revenge will be plentiful and the entire office will join in I’m sure. I’ve only done it to myself though, but hey, have I mentioned the Philadelphia Eagles are the reigning world champs?
Notre Dame 21, Virginia Tech 24
Week 7 – vs. Pitt
Coming off their first loss of the season, Notre Dame comes into this one refocused and with an edge to them. On paper this one probably should be a bit closer, but I think a pissed off Irish squad will take out their frustrations on an overmatched Pitt team that will be the unfortunate recipient of Notre Dame’s frustrations.
Notre Dame 38, Pitt 9
Week 8 – @ Navy (San Diego)
It’s been a while since Notre Dame has been able to blow out Navy like they should based on their talent advantage. With a bye week to prepare and rest up, I think that happens this year. I’ve been saying that the last few years and it hasn’t happened since 2013, but everything about this year’s game makes me think Notre Dame takes care of business easily here.
Notre Dame has usually fared better against Navy the 2nd year of a defensive system. Bob Diaco embarrassingly struggled against the triple option in 2010 and then shut it down in 2011. Brian Vangorder’s defense nearly coughed up a huge Irish lead in 2014 before handling the Middies in 2015. Technically this is Clark Lea’s first year as the DC facing Navy, but he was on staff last year and this is essentially the same defense as last year as well.
Notre Dame 42, Navy 14
Week 9 – @ Northwestern
On paper, Notre Dame should wipe the floor with Northwestern. A week after a west coast trip though, the Irish could come out just a bit sluggish and let the Wildcats in this one longer than they should be. There is also always the week after Navy effect that some fans like to ignore exists. I expect Notre Dame to win, but to win closer than they should given the talent edge.
Notre Dame 21, Northwestern 13
Week 10 – vs. Florida State
It’s been 25 years since the epic 1993 showdown between these two and while it might have looked like a repeat was in the cards when this one was announced, I don’t think Florida State will come in highly ranked enough for this one to come anywhere close to that epic matchup. The Seminoles may rebound under Willie Taggart but I don’t think that will happen this year. This will be a good game, but in the end Notre Dame gets revenge for the referees stealing one from them in Tallahassee in 2014.
Notre Dame 28, Florida State 17
Week 11 – vs. Syracuse (Yankee Stadium)
There aren’t too many Notre Dame fans super excited about this one – even those in the NYC area such as myself. A week after a big game to Florida State and a week before a cross country trip to USC, Notre Dame surrendered a game in Notre Dame Stadium to play in Yankee Stadium for the 3rd time in nine years. The Irish will win this one, but could look a bit sluggish from the after effects of the Florida State game combined with some looking ahead to USC. Notre Dame scores a couple late to make the scoreboard look nicer.
Notre Dame 31, Syracuse 13
Week 12 – @ USC
If all goes as planned above Notre Dame will enter this game 10-1 and likely either firmly in the playoff top 4 or just outside of it. That would make this game almost a playin game for the Irish who haven’t won in California to end a season since 2012. If Notre Dame played USC in October like last year I would feel much better about their chances against true freshman JT Daniels. Daniels though will have had essentially an entire season under his belt by week 12 and USC has this one circled on their calendars after the total beatdown the Irish gave them last year.
Notre Dame 28, USC 35
This would put Notre Dame at 10-2 in the regular season and in a New Year’s 6 Bowl game. It would also give Notre Dame 10 wins in back to back seasons for the first time since 1992 – 1993. It all starts on Saturday though with Michigan. If Notre Dame loses that game, I could see a much different outcome to the season and wouldn’t be surprised with a 8-4 regular season should they lose that contest.
As you can see below, Greg and I are in agreement with the wins and losses predictions this year so you might be able to come back to this post in December and make fun of us both equally.
|Week 1 - Michigan||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 2 - Ball State||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 3 - Vanderbilt||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 4 - Wake Forest||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 5 - Stanford||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 6 - Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech|
|Week 7 - Pitt||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 8 -Navy||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 9 - Navy||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 10 - Florida State||Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|Week 11 - Syracuse||Notre Dame||Notre Damw|
|Week 12 - USC||USC||USC|