A lot of things are going back to normal in college football this coming season. For one college program, that return to normalcy could result in a much worse season than they had last year.
In a recent feature for ESPN, college football analyst Bill Connelly's SP+ computer model projected that Notre Dame will struggle a lot more in 2021. Last year they went 10-2 as a temporary ACC team, reaching the College Football Playoff.
But the SP+ model projects they'll only go 7-5 as an independent this year. That would be the worst record the Fighting Irish have had since 2016.
Notre Dame's schedule may not have ACC juggernaut Clemson on it, but there are some challenges to be found. AAC powerhouse Cincinnati along with Wisconsin, Florida State, UNC, USC and both Virginia schools could give the Irish some some trouble.
Compound Notre Dame's tough schedule with a question mark at quarterback and you have a recipe for a worse season than 2020. Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan is expected to be named the starter, but he has a lot to prove after not playing last year.
Last year the Fighting Irish went 10-2, going undefeated in ACC play before losing the ACC Championship Game to Clemson. They then lost in the Rose Bowl of the College Football Playoff to Alabama, losing 31-14.
What do you think Notre Dame's record will be in 2021? Did the ESPN computer model get it right?