On the Record: Predicting Notre Dame Football’s 2019 Record

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is going to address the media later today to talk Notre Dame’s week one opponent Louisville. Before he does, Greg and I wanted to go on the record again this preseason with our game by game picks for the entire season.  So here we go, let’s project the entire season week by week.

Game 1: @ Louisville

Frank: Louisville was not a good football team in 2018.  They were so not good that they now have a new head coach.  Sometimes a new coach can come out with a bang in week one.  See the case of one Charlies Weis at Notre Dame in 2005.  I don’t think that is the case.  Notre Dame QB Ian Book comes out firing this weekend and Notre Dame cruises to a relatively easy victory ala the 2017 season opener vs. Temple.

Notre Dame 41, Louisville 17

Greg: They’ve got a new coach who is good enough to make this a contest Notre Dame needs to prepare for, but this isn’t a game a playoff team from the previous year should lose. The program will be ready, Notre Dame is historically good in openers, and I don’t expect the Louisville fans to be the type of ruckus to affect the football team. The theme of the season is “Road Warriors” anyway, so it plays right in.

Notre Dame 38, Louisville 13

Game 2: vs. New Mexico

Frank: Bob Davie always struggled to win football games in Notre Dame Stadium. He isn’t going to start winning their now – especially if he does deploy a four quarterback system.  That sounds like the old Bob Davie we remember, doesn’t it?  Notre Dame comes off a week two bye game to send Davie out of Notre Dame Stadium unhappy once again.

Notre Dame 49, New Mexico 10

Greg: Bob Davie will get a first-hand look at a program he probably won’t recognize from his time at Notre Dame. New stadium, new practice facility, a real program. This will be destruction from start to finish; it’s a miracle Davie is even around to coach given how shoddy his team was last season.

Notre Dame 55, New Mexico 10

Game 3: @ Georgia

Frank:  Everyone knows this is a make or break game for the 2019 season for Notre Dame.  The health concerns of WR Michael Young and TE Cole Kmet could leave Notre Dame underhanded, but the bigger concern here is the middle of the Notre Dame defense. Georgia’s power running game will be too much for Notre Dame’s rebuilt interior defense, and the Irish offense will not be able to keep pace.

Georgia 24, Notre Dame 13 

Greg: A lot depends on whether Cole Kmet and Michael Young are healthy enough, although more likely only one of them is. Either way, I think the outcome is the same. Georgia can do what perhaps no other team on the schedule can, which is out physical Notre Dame. They’ve got the best line in the country, a stable of backs, an experienced quarterback, and they are at home. Winning this game will require a performance from Book that just may not be there, given then rest of the roster.

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Georgia 27, Notre Dame 17

Game 4: vs. Virginia

Frank: While everyone is pointing to the Georgia game is the make or break game of the year, this might actually be the turning point of the season.  Virginia is good enough to beat Notre Dame if they limp into this one wounded following the battle with Georiga in Athens.  If Notre Dame is not careful, the Cavaliers could derail the Irish’s season.  Lose this game, and a four-loss season isn’t out of the question.  WR Michael Young scores the game-winner in his return to action for the Irish here.

Notre Dame 27, Virginia 24

Greg: A gut check game having just come off of a loss against a team with a good coach, a good quarterback, and a very good secondary. Maybe another team falters in the spot, but I don’t think so here. Notre Dame hasn’t lost at home since Georgia in 2017, and Notre Dame is playing for their season in this one. It’ll be a tough game, but the Irish prevail.

Notre Dame 35, Virginia 24

Game 5: vs. Bowling Green

Frank: Even if Notre Dame doesn’t have its best game, this game is a perfect tune-up for USC.  The Irish offense gets back on track against Bowling Green after a couple of sluggish weeks.

Notre Dame 52, Bowling Green 14

Greg: It’ll be a massacre, back up QB Phil Jurkovec will throw a couple of touchdown passes to Kevin Austin in his first action, Kyle Hamilton sets an Irish record with four interceptions in a game.

Notre Dame 62, Bowling Green 13

Game 6: vs. USC

Frank: The last time visited South Bend, Notre Dame blew the Trojans out of the water.  Depending on how USC’s early-season goes, this could be the case again this year.  Notre Dame should have beaten USC by much more than they did a year ago and while I don’t see a 2017 style beatdown in the cards, I don’t expect Notre Dame to need a long Tony Jones Jr screen pass for a touchdown in the 4th to win either.  Notre Dame has USC seeing more green than just what’s in the stands.

Notre Dame 38, USC 17

Greg: So many variables with USC here, who could conceivably be led by an interim coach at this point. I’ll assume they are the best version of themselves for this analysis though and fortunately for Notre Dame the things they want to do, pass and play wide open, allow Notre Dame to get their weakest defenders out of the game (the linebackers) and allow Kyle Hamilton and Shaun Crawford to enter. Plus, the more opportunities for our defensive ends to rush the passer, the better. As I eluded to with Georgia, if you want to beat Notre Dame you have to beat them up, and USC can’t do that.

Notre Dame 35, USC 21

Game 7: @ Michigan

Frank: The Big House has been a house of horrors for Notre Dame over the last 20 years.  I am not buying the Michigan hype though, and Notre Dame has a bye week to prepare.  The media has bought so much into Jim Harbaugh that they’ll probably still hype them even after Notre Dame goes into the Big House and walks out as the victors.  DE Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem are going to make things real uncomfortable for Shea Patterson.

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Notre Dame 31, Michigan 17

Greg: Given the venue in Ann Arbor, this game will be close, but this is the contest where Book cements his legacy at Notre Dame. Michigan will stack the box and play man defense with a single safety daring Book to beat them, and Book will do just that with all of his weapons at his disposal. Michigan changed offensive coordinators, which is fun I guess, but they didn’t get tougher with the move, and the strength is their passing game, which again, is not the way to beat Notre Dame in 2019.

Notre Dame 28, Michigan 24

Game 8: vs. Virginia Tech

Frank: Just like a year ago, the Virginia Tech game worries me more than the Michigan game.  Wolverine fans took a lot of umbrage with my pre-season prediction of that last year, and I’m sure they will this year.  The Hokie defense will not be as bad as it was a year ago and Notre Dame won’t have Dexter Williams running for 97-yard touchdowns this year. It won’t be enough for Virginia Tech to win in South Bend again, but it will be closer this year.

Notre Dame 27, Virginia Tech 24

Greg: This is a tricky one. Notre Dame just got through the toughest part of their schedule, they return home likely ranked in the top 10, and Tech hasn’t been good for a couple of years. On paper, no problem, but we know in every season there is always one. If there is a letdown game, it comes this week, when Tech will bring an experienced quarterback and a good defense. Will they win the letdown game of 2019? I say, yes.

Notre Dame 27, Virginia Tech 20

Game 9: @ Duke

Frank: Notre Dame has settled some scores from the 2016 season.  They got USC, Navy, Michigan State, and NC State in 2017 and Virginia Tech and Stanford last year. They get revenge on Duke in November.

Notre Dame 42, Duke 17

Greg: A lot of people see this as an upset special because of Cutcliffe, but no. You can’t beat Notre Dame this year with a green quarterback. The Irish will come off of their letdown the previous week with a stellar offensive performance, and this one will be a laugher.

Notre Dame 48, Duke 24

Game 10: vs. Navy

Frank: Notre Dame had a hard time putting away the Midshipmen in 2018, and unfortunately I see that happening again this year.  Notre Dame’s November isn’t quite as daunting as it was a year ago, but this just has the feel of one of those November games in which Notre Dame struggles, wins ugly, and then has everyone talking about how they aren’t elite.

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Notre Dame 31, Navy 21

Greg: The wheels are falling off for the Midshipmen. What used to be a high powered offense with a surprisingly stingy defense is now an annoying offense with a weak defense. For the time being, it seems like Navy won’t be giving us all the scare they have in previous years.

Notre Dame 45, Navy 20

Game 11: vs. Boston College

Frank: Boston College coming to Notre Dame Stadium late in the year with Notre Dame wearing special uniforms, what could possibly go wrong?  What’s worrisome here is Boston College will come to town with an elite running back.  If the Eagles come into South Bend in late November and try to play keep away from Notre Dame, I could see a game similar to Pitt 2018 where the Panthers tried beat Notre Dame with a thousand papercuts.

Notre Dame 31, Boston College 17

Greg: BC with a good offense and a weak defense? That’s what might be coming to South Bend just before Thanksgiving, and preseason All-American AJ Dillon ‘ll lead them at running back. It’ll also be Senior Day, so there is all the nostalgia that goes along with that. This late in the season any number of unknown factors will play into the outcome here, but we aren’t losing to these fellas at 9-1 and likely with a chance at another playoff berth.

Notre Dame 34, Boston College 17

Game 12: @ Stanford

Frank: Notre Dame has not beaten Stanford on the road under Brian Kelly.  Last year the Irish finally beat up on a down Stanford team after they squandered multiple opportunities to do so in the past.  This is the year that Notre Dame finally takes care of the Cardinal in Palo Alto.

Notre Dame 35, Stanford 20

Greg: Again, who knows where Stanford is at this point in the season, but it comes down to this: Just as in 2015, will Notre Dame sitting at 10-1, and likely in the picture for a playoff berth go into Palo Alto and blow the season in their final game? I say no, no matter how good Stanford is*.

*Reasonably. If they are undefeated or sporting one loss, then the analysis may change.

Notre Dame 38- Stanford 30

And there you have it.  Greg and I are both predicting an 11-1 regular season for Notre Dame.  If that happens, Notre Dame will be on the fringe of College Football Playoff debate.  Will it get them there?  I don’t think so – even if Georgia is one of the top teams.  That is unless there are a lot of one-loss teams at the end of the year.  Recency bias will work against an 11-1 Notre Dame team – especially if they have a close call in November which is very possible.   If Greg and I are both correct though, there will be a lot of fun debates that first week of December.

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  1. A healthy Notre Dame could run the table but 10-2 or 9-3 is more likely with this gauntlet they have to run through. Any significant injuries early on and this could get ugly like 7-5 or 6-6. Looking forward to watching Wimbush play tonight.

  2. ILL go with 9-3 this years road schedule is !! With games at GEORGIA, MICHIGAN and STANFORD, not to mention every ACC team has a bye week b4 they play the IRISH this will be a very difficult season!!! KEYS, LENZY or any other WR must really step up and contribute from game 1 ! 9-3 but looking for THE LUCK OF THE IRISH to maybe go 10-2!!

  3. I think 9 wins. Everyone says Michigan has been overrated for a few years, but you forget Notre Dame beat them by seven last year. And they beat a down USC by seven as well. Theses team will be better this year. Notre Dame lost as much as they did from last year. Also, Notre Dame has no interior defensive linemen of note and no proven offensive weapons outside of Chase. I’m not drinking to Kool Aid either.

  4. 10-2 or 11-1 (if the linebackers play well together…a big “if”). I think some of the games you guys scored above may have wider margins than you predict. Our offensive line will be hard to handle for anyone for 60 minutes. Our guys know they have to show up on the road this year…they will be prepared. Most of the suspects for upsets are home games for us (Duke excepted). We’ll be fine, and we’ll earn a New Year’s Six bowl spot, though not likely one of the playoff games.

  5. Frank &Greg. There will be a log jam of 11-1 teams or Conference Champs in the playoff mix with 2 losses. Your right though , Irish need to go 11-1 for shot at final 4. Your points total for Irish wins–seems a tad bit high. I hope the Irish O can out do PPG from last season. Which brings be me to the Georgia game. I think Irish can put up 21 to 24 points. Irish D capable of holding Bull Dogs to under 21-24 points ? Well see. I agree with Damian it’s game to game — enjoy the season and the performances of the players of this 2019 squad. Go Irish.

  6. I think 10-2 or 9-3 is most likely but sure hope for 12-0. Even after the last 2 years I am just not ready to take the entire leap into the Kool Aid pitcher. The Irish HAVE to eliminate those games they seem to sleepwalk through against lesser opponents. I worry less about Georgia (anything but a blowout loss is acceptable) and Michigan (overrated as usual) than I do about UVA, Duke, VTech and BC. I hope at some point I get over this but after rewatching the USC game from last year (they were 5-7!) I just cannot shake the painful memories of the occasional baffling loss in the BK era.

  7. 11-1 would be nice. 12-0 would be nicer :) . But you guys are braver than I. I have a hard time predicting anything with the Irish under BK these days. They can be anywhere from 12-0 to 7-5 (I don’t see it being WORSE than that—at least I hope).

    Georgia is definitely the toughest game of the bunch though. They will need an epic performance to beat them. I agree about Michigan. It seems the media is desperate for them to have that breakout year, and I laugh every year when Michigan falls flat by the end of the year. Ever since the RichRod experiment they’ve had trouble and it delights me no end.

    But for the season I plan on just taking it game to game. Rooting for a win and seeing where things land. I’m not going to stress myself by worrying about the next week until that week comes.

    Go Irish!

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