Notre Dame is looking for a third-straight 10-win season, something the Fighting Irish haven't accomplished since 1991-93. Most preseason projections seem to put this goal within reach.
Noted college football expert Phil Steele released his yearly preview magazine earlier this month. Steele has been bullish on Notre Dame in recent years, and he seems to like this year's squad, at least to a point.
Notre Dame is ranked ninth in Steele's preseason top 25, and he does say the Irish are "capable of getting back to the playoffs." However, judging by the fact he put Michigan and Georgia, two Notre Dame road opponents, in his actual playoff field while slotting the Irish in the Orange Bowl against Miami, it appears Steele is expecting a couple of losses in the regular season.
Here is more of what Steele had to say, via 247Sports.
“The Irish have been good to me as I had them my No. 1 most-improved team in 2017 and they went from 4-8 to 10-3,” Steele said on his No. 9 ranking. “... Notre Dame has quarterback and Book back to go along with a top-10 offensive line and secondary. They do have to play both Georgia and Michigan on the road but last year’s playoff trip will have them battle tested.”
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“Last year, they were No. 51 on my experience chart and got the call as my No. 1 surprise team,” Steele said. “The Irish delivered, going 12-0 and making the playoffs but they dropped to 0-8 in January vs top-10 teams. This year, Notre Dame has 13 returning starters and drops to No. 98 on my experience chart. They rate a -5 in my stock market indicator and did benefit from four net-close wins. Coach Kelly feels the offensive and defensive lines are strengths and they have a veteran quarterback. This team is capable of getting back to the playoffs but face both Michigan and Georgia on the road.”
Notre Dame opens up against Louisville on Labor Day. A tuneup follows in the home opener against New Mexico, and then comes the big test against Georgia in Week 3.
With road games against the Bulldogs, Michigan and Stanford, plus potentially tough home matchups against Virginia and USC, it seems unlikely that Notre Dame can duplicate last season's success.
However, when another 10-win campaign isn't out of the question. When The Spun unveils its top 25 early next week, the Fighting Irish should find themselves in the top 10.