Notre Dame & Preseason Expectations

June 14, 2017 Lou Somogyi, Senior Editor

Notre Dame has fared better when not ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

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Expectations are the root of all disappointment.

That might be a plus for Notre Dame’s football team in 2017.

In the 23 seasons since 1994, the Fighting Irish have been ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll 15 times. Not once in those 15 years did they finish higher than the preseason rating (although in 1998 and 2015 they placed at the same spot that they started, 22 and 11, respectively).

Meanwhile, in the eight seasons since 1994 that Notre Dame was not ranked in the preseason by the AP poll, it placed in the Top 25 four times — including making a major bowl as a Top 10-ranked team in three of them (2000, 2005 and 2012), and starting the fourth with a 10-1 record in 2002.

Following the 4-8 campaign from last year — in which the Fighting Irish began No. 10 in the AP and were projected to post their first back-to-back 10-win campaigns since 1991-93 — they are unlikely to be ranked in the preseason AP this August.

Here are the seven previous AP preseason rankings under head coach Brian Kelly, and the outcome:


Preseason Ranking: None.

This was natural because the Irish had gone 16-21 the three previous seasons under deposed head coach Charlie Weis.

Finish: Not ranked (8-5)

It was the first time ever Notre Dame won its final four games and didn’t finish in the final poll.


Preseason Ranking: 16

The 4-0 finish the year prior generated much buzz the ensuing year.

Finish: Not ranked (8-5)

Notre Dame dropped out of the Top 25 after the opening game loss to South Florida and fell to 0-2 the next week at Michigan.

It didn’t return to the Top 25 until the 11th week at 7-3 and climbed as high as No. 22 before losing at Stanford and then Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.


Preseason Ranking: None

After improving to 11-0, Notre Dame on Nov. 18 was elevated to No. 1 for the first time since Nov. 20, 1993, almost 19 years to the day. At 12-0, Notre Dame would finish the regular season at the top spot for the first time since winning its most recent national title in 1988.

Finish: 4 (12-1)

Following the 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship, the Irish still had their highest finish since No. 2 in 1993. This also is one of only two times Notre Dame has placed in the AP Top 10 in the past 23 seasons.


Preseason Ranking: 14

Based on the previous season, this might have been Top 10 had starting quarterback Everett Golson not been suspended from school in the fall semester because of an academic indiscretion.

Finish: 20 (9-4)

The Irish dropped out of the Top 25 after falling to 3-2 with a home loss to Oklahoma. The Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers elevated them from No. 25 to 20.


Preseason Ranking: 17

Notre Dame was attempting to finish in the final AP rankings three years in a row for the first time since doing it seven straight from 1987-93.

Finish: Not ranked (8-5)

The Irish started 6-0, were No. 5 and appeared to have won at No. 2 Florida State — but lost on a controversial call in the closing seconds and would finish the regular season with defeats in five of their last six contests. Feast or famine.


Preseason Ranking: 11

A four-team Playoff contender at 10-1 right into the final week of the regular season, Kelly’s crew ended up finishing where they started.

Finish: 11 (10-3)

This was tied with 1995 for the third-best placement in the poll the last 23 campaigns.


Preseason Ranking: 10

The first time since the No. 2 rating in 2006 that Notre Dame began the season in the top 10.

Finish: Not ranked (4-8)

The last time the Irish began the season in the AP Top 10 and actually finished there as well was, once again, 1993. That year it was placed at No. 7 in the preseason and ended up No. 2 despite defeating No. 1 Florida State, 31-24, on Nov. 13.


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