Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Head coach: Brian Kelly (10th year)
Last year’s record: 12-1, Cotton Bowl loss against Clemson, 30-3
Final AP ranking: No. 5
Recruiting Ranking: No. 15 (0 5-stars, 16 4-stars, 6 3-stars)
First game: Sept. 2 at Louisville (futures available on BetAmerica)
O/U win total: 9.5
It will be difficult for Notre Dame to improve upon last season’s unbeaten regular-season record and appearance in the College Football Playoff. The only thing the Irish can do to surpass the outcome of 2018 is make it one game farther to the national championship—even better if they win it all. The task will be far from easy following the roster turnover at the end of last season, but Brian Kelly is capable of conditioning his team for another stellar performance in 2019.
Notre Dame encountered a similar exodus of talent the year after a 10-3 season in 2015. The following year the Irish went 4-8, as they struggled to rebuild. To avoid similar fate in 2019, Notre Dame will especially need to revamp its defense.
Cornerback Julian Love (47 tackles, 15 passes defended), linebackers Te’von Coney (59 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Drue Tranquill (58 tackles, 3.5 sacks), and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (eight sacks, three forced fumbles) each earned a spot on an NFL roster in the offseason.
The offense experienced less attrition but still lost leading rusher Dexter Williams (941 yards, 12 touchdowns), top receiver Miles Boykin (803 yards, eight TDs) and tight end Alize Mack (349 yards, three TDs). Junior quarterback Ian Book (2,628 yards, 19 TDs) will look to wideouts Chase Claypool (631 yards, four TDs) and Chris Finke (547 yards, two TDs) as his main options in the passing game. Sophomores Cole Kmet and Brock Wright will compete for the starting spot at tight end.
As for running back, junior Tony Jones Jr. ran for 392 yards last season (the second-most on the team), while junior Jafar Armstrong finished with 377 yards and seven touchdowns. One of those two will emerge as the answer to Williams’ departure.
In Notre Dame’s last 26 games, the Irish have managed to lose only four. Virtually the same staff from last year, minus running backs coach Autry Denson, is back to lead the charge, which should help the team continue a consistent level of success going forward in 2019.
Win total: Under 9.5 (-150), Over 9.5 (+115)
Notre Dame has its work cut out to pull off another undefeated regular season. The Irish open with a road game at Louisville, a seemingly easy win. They then host New Mexico before a trip to Georgia for the first huge test of the season. Notre Dame should suffer a loss in Athens and will face another challenge against an improving Virginia team the following week. Road games at Michigan in October and Stanford to close out the season could see ND falter. Go with the under, and expect three, potentially four, losses in 2019.
Notre Dame vs. Georgia, Sept. 21
Georgia will find itself in the College Football Playoff conversation in the upcoming season. Notre Dame’s talent in 2019 doesn’t match up, and with the Irish traveling to Georgia for the contest, an upset of the Bulldogs is too much to ask for. The 10.5 spread is a bit high, though. Take Notre Dame plus the points.
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