It’s been a season with ups and downs, but the Notre Dame football team is still undefeated.
Preseason predictions can be a strange thing. Notre Dame football was picked by many to be an eight, maybe nine-win team.
Here we sit in mid October, and the Fighting Irish have already come pretty close — 7-0 close — to be exact.
The record has been perfect, but the season hasn’t. But let’s all just take a step back and relax.
Yes, close calls against Ball State, Vanderbilt and Pitt haven’t been great. The season’s starting quarterback didn’t play well at times and was benched. Alex Bars is done for the season. And for some, that’s all people want to focus.
But why? Notre Dame is not the only team in the country with issues.
Alabama’s defense is arguably the worst it’s been in years. Georgia was torched against LSU after the Tigers team lost to Florida, who (also) almost lost to Vanderbilt. Oklahoma lost to Texas, who’s proven they’re incapable of beating Maryland — no matter how bad the Terps may be. Even Ohio State was given a run by TCU, who’s now a disappointing 3-3.
Every team has issues.
There’s a lot to be excited about with this Notre Dame team. They’re 7-0, something they haven’t done since 2012. Remember 2012? There was a Heisman finalist and a National Championship appearance. Before that? 1993, when they were painfully close to winning the National Championship. And before THAT? 1989, the season following an undefeated National Championship.
Ian Book ignited the offense after he took hold of the starting quarterback job, taking the unit from 23.3 points per game when Brandon Wimbush was the starter to 39.5 points per game.
The defense has been great as well, as they’ve allowed over 17 points per game just twice.
They have wins over teams representing four different Power 5 conferences. (With a possible 5th over a Power 6 conference next week, depending on how you view the AAC.)
Notre Dame still has some great games remaining this season. Navy is always a great rivalry. Northwestern and Syracuse could be extremely tricky. USC is the final game of the regular season.
Imagine playing for a playoff spot under the lights at the Coliseum.
Oh, and Florida State is on the schedule too. They play football, and that’s about the best I can say about them at this point.
There’s a lot of football left.
Let’s not forget what’s already happened, headlined by a dominant win over Michigan. A few teams count top 10 wins as when the game happened. Michigan is currently number 6. This is a legitimate top 10 win.
And that tough road test in Blacksburg? Prime time, ABC, Enter Sandman, remember all that, right? 45-23.
This is without a doubt the best team Notre Dame has had since 2012. Given the offensive ability, this team may actually be better.
The athletes are far superior. Just watch the film from 2012. The players are bigger, faster and stronger. It’s possible this is the best team residing in South Bend since 1988. That was a decent 12-0 team that brought a championship home.
Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.
The team is 7-0.
12-0 is difficult but definitely doable. There are weaknesses, but the strengths are impressive. There’s experience for days, and the injury bug has mostly avoided the team.
Maybe they play down to opponents, but man, do they show up when it’s time for a big game. That’s good, because from here on out, every game is a big game.
The offense is as good as it’s been in a long time. The running backs, once an area of concern, have broken out with three legitimate talents. Depth at receiver has grown tremendously. Even the offensive line has grown into a solid unit post Nelson/McGlinchey.
The defense has proven it’s dominance. Jerry Tillery appears to be a sure-fire first round pick. Khalid Kareem has broken out into a force. Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill have given you exactly what you expected them to give. Julian Love and Alohi Gilman both have crazy futures ahead of them.
Special teams can use some work, but there’s no denying that both Justin Yoon and Tyler Newsome are All-American caliber players.
And we haven’t even scratched the surface of the 2018 recruiting class.
Life is good in the Notre Dame Football world. The team is in perfect position for a run at the College Football Playoff. It may be too late for a Heisman run, but you can’t win them all.
But Notre Dame CAN win all their games. It doesn’t matter how ugly the victories are. Wins are wins. Close wins are much better than close losses, and don’t let anyone tell you that “quality losses” exist.
When you’re ranked No. 4, you win — you stick around.
Let’s be positive about this. Life is good. Issues exist, but nothing Notre Dame can’t recover from. 7-0 is much better than the alternative. The team is undefeated.
Let’s all just take a step back and enjoy the ride.