Will Notre Dame Go Over Or Under Their Projected 9.5 Win Total?

It is early March, Notre Dame has had three spring practices, so it’s time for some 2019 predictions! At least it is according to BetOnline in Las Vegas, who set the over/under win totals for the top college football teams for 2019. As the headline suggests, Notre Dame came in at 9.5 wins, the same as Oregon, Texas, and Michigan, a half game better than LSU and Florida, and worse than Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington, and UCF.

This suggests Vegas doesn’t see last season as some sort of sign the program is ready to make a jump, but it does put it to the fans, or bettors, to decide if that is the case.¬†Of the the teams who finished in the top 5 last season, Notre Dame is the only one with an over/under total below 10. Is this a double digit win program or still a nine or eight win outfit?

Reasons To Bet The Under

Major Personnel Losses

Notre Dame was led by the defense last season, and was only able to do so because they brought back Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill, Te’Von Coney, and Julian Love (who was not yet eligible to depart). The first three players all had decisions to make heading into last off-season, and all three were thought at one point to be favorites to leave. Imagine going through last season without those those three in the front seven. Now, they are all gone, and with them went first team All-American corner Julian Love. The top four players from the best unit on the team are gone. Without any natural replacements. That’s not great.

Now consider the offense also lost their top receiver, Miles Boykin, and their top running back, and possibly only home run threat at the position in Dexter Williams. That’s a major hill to climb for any program, let alone Notre Dame who doesn’t recruit at the level of the other top programs with projected wins above them.

Schedule Difficulty

Notre Dame was pretty fortunate with the schedule last season. Their toughest regular season game was at home. USC, Virginia Tech, Stanford, and Florida State were all down, and Stanford was at home. This doesn’t take away from their wins at Northwestern and against Syracuse away from home, two teams that heavily outperformed their preseason predictions. But, when the blue-blood teams, and teams with more on paper talent than you–USC and Florida State–are disappointments, that makes the schedule much easier to navigate.

This season, they may not be so lucky. Georgia and Michigan are road games, as is Stanford at the end of the year. The first two teams are not likely to be down in any way, especially Georgia, and we saw Notre Dame struggle with a bad USC to end last season, and that was while protecting an undefeated season. Imagine how that game goes if Stanford is to be the 10th win, instead of the 12th, as was the case in 2017.

Then factor in a rising Virginia team right after Georgia and Virginia Tech right after USC and Michigan. There are a lot of potential pitfalls in there.

Reasons To Bet The Over

Personnel Losses Are Not New

This isn’t the first time the team has lost a lot of top talent prior to a successful season. In fact, it happened just last season. Notre Dame lost two top ten picks on the offensive line, their top running back, wide receiver, and starting tight end from the previous season. They ended up making some tweaks to the offense, inserted a better quarterback and simply found some other way to win football games. And while they did lose a ton on defense, the losses weren’t total.

Notre Dame brings back their best defensive end talent in years, maybe decades, with Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem, Daelin Hayes, and fast rising Ade Ogundeji. They have bodies who have produced at defensive tackle, and perhaps the best returning safety tandem in a long time. Linebacker is obviously a concern, but is it any more of a concern than offensive line was last season? Especially after losing Alex Bars against Stanford.

There are lots of ways to win games. What if Ian Book makes a leap in 2019, along with his receiving corps? What if Notre Dame’s offensive line, which now has a ton of starts and experience to it, makes a leap of their own? Shouldn’t those two things be not just possible, but expected? Couldn’t the offense finish in the top 10, as the defense did last season, while the defense “falls” to just being top 25, as the Notre Dame offense was with Book last year?

Is Notre Dame Beyond Schedule Fears?

When looking at the schedule, there is one team ahead of them as far as program health, and that’s Georgia. They are top 3 in team talent, and will be a top 4 team when Notre Dame plays them in Athens next season. A tough hill to climb. But, everyone else? Notre Dame is the better program than everyone else on their schedule.

They are healthier program wise than Stanford, USC is a dumpster fire, Michigan is also losing a ton of talent, and people aren’t exactly excited in Ann Arbor. It’ll be a tough game certainly, but Notre Dame’s program is in a better place right now.

Obviously, college football is college football and losses happen for no good reason every season. That’s not a new thing. And maybe major injuries happen or a suspension, and the calculus changes. But as it stands now, there is really only one team for Notre Dame to fear.

Prediction

I’m going to bet on Brian Kelly and his program. They’ve got staff continuity, they’ve got a returning quarterback who finished 17th in passer rating last season, tons of talent and experience on the offensive line, and should have a stellar pass rush. Those are recipes for success. This is what Kelly has been building towards since he revamped the team following 2016. It’s the third season of that rebuild and it’s time for his program to peak, and this year will show they are ready to do so.

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10 Comments

  1. It’s a little early to predict a season but the continual drone of bad news coming from Southern Cal makes the possibility of sweeping the home games again this year look a bit more promising. But as far as predicting the season as a whole goes, I have to wait until I hear what’s going on during the Summer Session at ND. As for the Georgia game, neither ND nor Georgia can afford to drop that game in Athens. Notre Dame needs it because we have no Conference Championship game to send a message at the end of the season if we have a loss on our schedule. Georgia needs it just because they play in the SEC and dropping a non-conference game would mean they have to run the SEC table, including the Championship, which is very tough to do. That game in Athens between ND ang the Dawgs won’t be a “play-in” game…it’s way to early – but it could be a de facto “play-out” game for the loser.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. And its already sold out. It will be a sea of Red just like it was a few years ago when Georgia played @ Notre Dame.

    2. BGC , it’s going to be a battle in Athens. Agree , a loss here by ND or Georgia will not necessarily eliminate playoff hopes. I hope the Irish have some pay back going into this game. The loss at home in 2017 and the Georgia Nation crying that they deserved 4th spot over Irish in 2018 playoffs.

      1. Southside,
        I hope our guys remember that one point loss to Georgia and the preposterous comments that followed it on how much better than ND Georgia really was. They were indeed better, but only by two big plays and one single point. Other than that, Notre Dame played Georgia to a standstill, hit for hit, play for play, and point for point. I just hope they remember the whole thing and resent the profound lack of respect we got after that game from the “experts.”

        BGC ’77 ’82

    3. Greg, I have seen USC in the days of Tollner, Hackett, Larry Smith and the dreadful Lane Kiffin.

      But Helton is a dunce of dunces. It is hard to imagine that Troy could ever fall so low.

      Two years ago, with Darnold, Notre Dame just mopped up the field with USC.

      There is often strange juju (not just Smith-Schuster) in the USC ND rivalry, but this may be the WORST SC team that has visited South Bend in my receollection.

      A rout is not beyond the pale.

      I think ND’s chances against Georgia are slim. I do not share the optimism of the rest of the board.
      Our depth at DT may be our Achilles Heel in that game.

      1. Duranko,
        USC has bigger problems than bad coaching and declining recruiting. I think they are on the verge of a revolt by their Faculty Senate – and it’s overdue.
        I have a GG uncle who taught at both Northwestern and USC (my father’s great uncle Ollie). Both were still Methodist universities during those years, but they were never equivalent…and no size increase in the endowment alone will ever make them so.

        BGC ’77 ’82

  2. VERY TALENTED IRISH TEAM. SCHEDULE LOOKS DAUNTING. WE WILL KNOW EARLY HOW GOOD ND IS. THE TRIP TO GEORGIA WILL TELL US ALOT. A COMPETETIVE GAME, WIN, OR, LOSE, MEANS IRISH CAN COMPETE WITH ANYONE! ?????

  3. Going from 10 to 12 seems average of 11. Take the over. Irish are loaded. May not have the aforementioned but way better overall depth.

    1. In with you on that Kelly. Greg’s final paragraph of article says he’s in — 11-1/12-0–right Greg ? Doubters on here , “I , I , am so s-s-scared of G-G- Georgia and M- M- Michigan. I just ca – ca – can’t grow a pair and pre – pre -predict Irish win 11/12 games.

      1. Perhaps for some, Southside. But although I do fear the combined road schedule, I don’t fear any one of them more than the others. My biggest concern is in seeing how hard our guys are working. I’ve seen some talented ND teams rest on their laurels in the off season, even while working out, and then maybe not achieve as much as they could have.
        Also, it seems to be a fact that Michigan plays better at home even though that stadium is not as loud as you might expect due to its shape. And I have to think that they are wanting to pay us back and finally beat a rival other than MSU.
        Understanding the situation and the stakes is not the same as fear. It’s just that the “what though the odds be great or small” lines come through best for the teams that train hard for good coaches. We’ve had some of those!

        10 or more wins per season is the norm right now for ND…and it will continue to be so as long as teams continue to work as hard under these coaches as they have since early in 2017. But if they try to cruise, or some are just going through the motions, nine wins sounds about right. At this time, right now, I don’t know what they are doing. In the old days you could go out there and walk right in the training building (with an autograph ball) and kill two birds with one stone: Get some autographs and see first hand how many guys were showing up. But that was a few buildings ago in the “pre-security” age.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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