Add SB Nation to the growing list of national media thinking Notre Dame could be in store for a special season.
SB Nation writer Bill Connelly is projecting a 10-2 season but wouldn’t be shocked if the Fighting Irish wind up one loss from being undefeated in 2018.
“If the Irish are to “exceed expectations in disappointing fashion” this year, that might mean an 11-1 finish or so,” Connelly said.
By “exceed expectations in disappointing fashion,” Connelly is referencing the fact that Notre Dame had a successful bounce back campaign in 2017 to improve by six wins after going 4-8 in 2016.
However, on the other hand finishing 10-3 last season was frustrating because the Irish were “maybe the best team in the country during October” before losses to Miami and Stanford in November.
In addition to working in a new defensive coordinator (Clark Lea), Notre Dame will have to replace its top two running backs (Josh Adams, Deon McIntosh), two of its top three wide receivers (Equanimeous St. Brown and Kevin Stepherson), and two key cogs on the offensive line (Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey).
Despite all of that, Connelly is confident the returning Notre Dame players will step up and take the Irish to the next level.
The lumps Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush took last season has prepared him for the challenge ahead.
Meanwhile, led by senior Drue Tranquill, the defense could be even stingier, a scary proposition for opponents.
“This is a loaded depth chart, balanced with senior leadership and young upside,” Connelly said. “The offense will be explosive, if sporadic, and the defense boasts a level of experience most coordinators dream of.”