Ian Book and the Fighting Irish look for a return trip to the College Football Playoff
Alabama fatigue has been a commonly used phrase over the past several years. The more the Crimson Tide wins, the more tired fans become of Nick Saban's crew. But Bama is not the only team that gets the college football faithful fired up.
No program generates emotional responses quite like Notre Dame. Even when they are down, the Fighting Irish get a lot of attention, which irks supporters of other teams. With consecutive 10-win seasons and a College Football Playoff appearance, Notre Dame is no longer down and the media is spending even more time focused on the Irish.
Can Brian Kelly's team continue their recent role? Here are the opinions of Athlon Sports editors and one of its college football contributors on the Notre Dame prospects for 2019.
Notre Dame Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
A return trip the CFB Playoff will require the Fighting Irish to navigate tough road trips to Michigan and Georgia. Brian Kelly's team brings back plenty of experience up front along the offensive line, and quarterback Ian Book is poised to take a step forward in his first full year as the starter. While Notre Dame's offense has to replace leading rusher Dexter Williams, the biggest concerns come on defense. How will coordinator Clark Lea replace lockdown corner Julian Love and restock the interior of the line and linebacking corps? I think the Fighting Irish are a solid top 10-12 team but will fall short of a repeat playoff bid.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Notre Dame's schedule features two games against teams we at Athlon Sports are projecting to reach the College Football Playoff — Georgia and Michigan, both on the road. The next most difficult game? Virginia (ranked No. 25) at home. So it's very easy to project 10 wins out of this team, but something tells me the Irish will slip up at least once against a lower-ranked team. I'm tempted to pick Virginia, but that game is in South Bend. I will go with the finale at Stanford, leaving Notre Dame with a good, but not great, 9-3 record.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
Losing key contributors is a part of college football that all teams have to handle and Notre Dame is no exception this season. The middle of the defense will be different as Jerry Tillery, Te'von Coney and Drue Tranquill are in NFL camps. All-American corner Julian Love has to be replaced as well and the offense will try to get by without running back Dexter Williams and receiver Miles Boykin. But there are plenty of major assets returning to South Bend. The talent at defensive end and safety is immense and Ian Book leads an offense with a deep group of receivers and four starters back on the offensive line. The Irish also have nine games in which going into the season they are projected as double-digit favorites. That leaves three huge road games: Georgia, Michigan, and Stanford. I don't believe that the Irish will get swept in these three games, but I don't believe they'll win them all either. Despite not claiming a victory in Palo Alto since 2007, I predict that the Irish beat the Cardinal but lose to both Georgia and Michigan to finish 10-2, which will be good enough for a New Year's Six bowl.