Notre Dame Football Predictions

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish capped off a 9-4 record in 2013 with a 29-16 win over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. While 9-wins is nothing to be ashamed of, it was a bit of a disappointment following 2012’s run to the BCS Championship Game. It certainly didn’t help matters that the Irish lost starting quarterback Everett Golson to a season long suspension for academics.

Looking ahead to 2014, Notre Dame will be entering the 5th year under Brian Kelly. It’s been quite a successful start for Kelly in South Bend. His 37 wins are tied for the most of any Irish head coach in his first four years on the job. Unfortunately that success came at a price. Both coordinators departed for head coaching jobs in the offseason. Assistant Mike Denbrock was promoted to offensive coordinator, while Brian VanGorder steps in as the new defensive coordinator.

Last Season
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/30 Rice
9/6 Michigan
9/13 Purdue (Indianapolis)
9/27 Syracuse (East Rutherford)
10/4 Stanford
10/11 North Carolina
10/18 @ Florida State
11/1 Navy (Landover)
11/8 @ Arizona State
11/15 Northwestern
11/22 Louisville
11/29 @ USC
Estimated Wins: 7.04

The Fighting Irish will return just 12 starters for a second consecutive season and will have the difficult task of replacing 8 NFL draft picks, six of which were taken in the first four rounds. The list includes offensive tackle Zach Martin (1st round pick), defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt (2nd round pick), tight end Troy Niklas (2nd round pick), nose tackle Louis Nix (3rd round pick and offensive guard Chris Watt (3rd round pick). As you can see, the most notable losses come along the offensive and defensive lines, which definitely raises a red flag for Notre Dame going into 2014.

Losing that much talent to the NFL can be tough to overcome even for a great program like Notre Dame, but the Irish are equipped with plenty of talent to fill in the holes. Notre Dame brought in the 8th ranked recruiting class of 2014, which is also where they rank overall in the last 3 years. Of even more importance, the Fighting Irish will get back Golson to fill the void left by Tommy Rees at quarterback. Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns, plus scored 6 rushing touchdowns in 11 starts as a red-shirt freshman in 2012.

A potential sign suggesting that Notre Dame could struggle to match last year’s success given what they lost, is the fact that the Irish were fortunate to win 9-wins last year. They trailed in 6 of their 9 wins and were 5-1 in games decided by 7-points or less. The big question is how much of a difference would have Golson made in those games and will his impact in 2014 be enough to make up the difference from all the talent that moved on to the NFL.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of Notre Dame this year, is what many consider to be the most difficult schedule in the country. Outside of their opener at home against Rice and a showdown versus Navy in Landover on Nov. 1, the rest of the Irish’s 2014 opponents all come from power conferences (Big 10, PAC-12 & ACC). What really stands out to me is Notre Dame’s home schedule, which features games against Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Northwestern and Louisville. They also have a couple of brutal road games at Florida State and USC, plus an away game against Arizona State and two more neutral site matchups versus Purdue and Syracuse. With Navy looking strong, the only three games where you can confidently predict a Notre Dame win is against Rice, Purdue and Syracuse.

Regular Season Win Total
National Championship Odds
75 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

As you can see from the schedule above, Notre Dame is listed as a favorite in 8 of their 12 games (all lines have been made available to bet early), but their season win total sits at 7.5. Even though I have a lot of respect for Kelly, I think the bar has been set too high for the Irish in 2014. I have Notre Dame finishing just below the mark at 7-5 and I wouldn’t be shocked if they ended up at 6-6. The schedule is simply too much for this team to overcome with all that talent they have had to replace. Keep in mind the Irish had six players taken in the NFL draft in 2013.

While I feel that Notre Dame is getting a little bit more respect than they deserve, due to their success from the previous two years, I don’t think this is a team you automatically want to fade this season. It’s going to be important to pick your spots and pay close attention to how this team looks early. My biggest area that I will be focusing on is the defense. Notre Dame has lost three defensive linemen and two linebackers to the NFL in the last two years (only 2 starters back on front 7 in 2014).

2014 Projections
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction

paul banks

Paul Banks

OVER 9 Wins – The Fighting Irish saw a lot of their NFL ready talent return to school meaning they’ll be locked and loaded this season. They have stellar and experienced players all over both lines, and that will win you a lot of games. Also, ACC Football is nothing to write home about and their schedule is loaded with ACC opponents. Yes, QB Everett Golson is gone, but his tendency to turn the ball over with high frequency made him quite suspect. Malik Zaire is in experienced, but could make up for that with his talent; and the solid supporting cast around him. They’re not 2012 level good, but they’re certainly 10 win potential. Take the over.

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