Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 PRESEASON 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI R ecording 10 victories during a college football season is not the benchmark it used to be. That's be- cause it's been watered down some with expanded schedules. Twenty or even 10 years ago, achieving 10 wins evoked evidence of prosperity. Today, for the "Big Three" in college football — Ala- bama, Clemson and Ohio State — a 10-win season is now viewed with disdain. • The Crimson Tide has never won less than 10 the past 10 seasons, and has averaged 12.5 victories per year since 2008. • Clemson is at 82 wins the past seven years, or nearly 12 per cam- paign, with back-to-back 14-1 (2015-16) outcomes. • Ohio State's Jim Tressel recorded a double-digit victory total six straight seasons from 2005-10, and Urban Meyer has 73 in his six years at Columbus since 2012, or just more than 12 per year. Twelve- and 13-game regular-sea- son schedules, conference playoffs and more than three dozen bowl games provide extra opportunities to reach 10. Nebraska, for example, finished 10-4 three times under Bo Pelini from 2009-12. Not bad … but it isn't the same value as when you actually played only 12 games, which is what eventually helped result in Pelini getting fired with all the four- loss results. In the first 100 years of Notre Dame football from 1887-1987, the Irish posted only eight 10-win campaigns, but that is extremely misleading. Most of the regular-season schedules had 10 games (or less) through 1950, and the Irish did not even attend bowl games from 1925-68. The 1947 national champs ended the year 9-0, and the 1966 team that finished No. 1 was 9-0-1. In fact, the Irish were one of the last teams to expand to an 11-game regular season back in 1974, the late head coach Ara Parseghian's final campaign. They didn't start playing 12-game regular seasons annually until 2006. Today, 12-game regular seasons are the norm, and with conference playoffs and bowls, it's not unusual to play 13 or more contests, which slightly devalues the 10-win total that was a form of a college football Holy Grail 20 years ago. Nevertheless, the 2017 Notre Dame edition became only the fifth one since 1994 to reach the mark — 2002, 2006, 2015 and 2017 were all 10-3, while the 2012 crew was 12-1. Interestingly, there has been a pre- cipitous drop after each of Notre Dame's last four seasons in which it posted at least 10 victories. • From 11-1 in 1993 to 6-5-1 in 1994. • From 10-3 in 2002 to 5-7 in 2003. • From 10-3 in 2006 to 3-9 in 2007. • From 10-3 in 2015 to 4-8 in 2016. Reaching 10 wins in 2018 might constitute another step in building a program rather than just a team. ✦ UNDER THE DOME TAKE 10 … OR MORE Notre Dame is vying to reach double-digit wins in consecutive years for first time since 1991-93 Linebacker Manti Te'o and the 2012 team (12-1) are the lone Fighting Irish squad since 1994 to win more than 10 games in a single season. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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