The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame opened with a season win total of over/under 9.5 wins at 5Dimes Sportsbook with more money on the under mostly because of schedule.
Two years removed from a 4-8 season, Notre Dame was back in the national conversation in 2018, losing to Clemson in the College Football Playoff. Brian Kelly expects similar results this season, but a more difficult schedule could be what keeps them out of the playoff.
Offense Should Be Better
It’s likely Notre Dame’s offense will be better than a year ago, especially if Ian Book can stay healthy the entire way. Book opened up the offense last season. He completed almost 70% of his passes on 8.4 yards per attempt. Much better than Brandon Wimbush who started the first few games.
The Irish averaged 31.4 ppg last year, but could push that closer to 40, which is where they were with Book under center.
Running back will be fine. Led by Jafar Armstrong (383 yards, 7 TDs) and Tony Jones (392 yards), who are set to split carries with the goal being more consistent production.
Even with their stud center gone, the line could be better with four regulars back in the mix and that could push the offense to another level.
Miles Boykin is gone at receiver, but Book still has plenty of options to work with. Chase Claypool (639 yards) and Chris Finke (571 yards) figure to be the top threats with Michael Young and tight end Cole Kmet expected to be in bigger roles.
17.3 ppg Will Be Hard to Duplicate
A bigger reason the Irish went undefeated in the regular season was the defense. That unit allowed just 17.3 points per contest in Clark Lea’s first year as coordinator.
Repeating that will be tough with so much high-end talent gone, but there are still pieces returning at every level.
Rush defense may be a question, but getting to the QB won’t be with senior ends Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara, among others. Senior linebacker Asmar Bilal is the lone returnee in the unit and that could be an issue early.
However, the secondary is stacked with a nice core of safeties in Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman to go with stand out corner Troy Pride.
12 Wins Not Likely This Year
Reaching 12 wins again is unlikely mostly because of a schedule that features trips to Georgia, Michigan and Stanford.
Sure, the Irish get a week off before going to Ann Arbor, but they still aren’t expected to win that game. Otherwise, every other matchup should be a win since their other two road games come at Louisville (opened -19.5) and Duke.
Home against USC and the Virginias will be tough, but again, this team should win those games unless something goes awry at quarterback.
Book could lead the way for one of the best Notre Dame offenses ever in terms of points per game and with a defense that should remain elite, there’s no reason this team can’t grab an upset along the way.
If they can win two of those, making the College Football Playoff (+400) would be possible again.
2019 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Schedule
Sept. 2 at Louisville
Sept. 14 vs. New Mexico
Sept. 21 at Georgia
Sept. 28 vs. Virginia
Oct. 5 vs. Bowling Green
Oct. 12 vs. USC
Oct. 26 at Michigan
Nov. 2 vs. Virginia Tech
Nov. 9 at Duke
Nov. 16 vs. Navy
Nov. 23 vs. Boston College
Nov. 30 at Stanford