2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 137 of 163

136 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY ANDREW MENTOCK O n a miserable, rainy evening in Ann Arbor in late October, Notre Dame saw its College Football Playoff hopes washed away with an embarrassing 45‑14 defeat at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines. Rather than fold and mail in the rest of the season, though, the Fighting Irish played their best football down the stretch. Notre Dame won its final six contests, starting with a come‑from‑behind 21‑20 victory versus Virginia Tech a week after the debacle in The Big House. The Irish then cruised the rest of the way, outscoring their final five foes by a margin of 208‑67 (an average score of 42‑13) en route to a No. 12 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. Here are our top five storylines from the past year: 1. The Silent Spring On March 12, Notre Dame athletics fol‑ lowed the world‑wide trend of indefinitely postponing all of its sporting events and prac‑ tices in order to promote social distancing. The day before, all in‑person classes were scrapped and virtual learning took its place. Consequently, the final 14 of Notre Dame's 15 spring practices were canceled, and coach‑ ing staffs throughout the country were forced to adjust to leading a team of more than 100 young men through Zoom conference calls. The social distancing requirements also compelled the NCAA to call off all unof‑ ficial and official recruiting visits through at least July 31. This meant the weekend of March 20‑22, which was supposed to be the 2019 2019 Year In Year In Review Review FINISHING STRONG Notre Dame placed just outside the top 10 last fall after winning its final six games Notre Dame's 33-9 win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl marked the program's biggest margin of victory in a bowl game under Brian Kelly and put an exclamation point on the team's six-game win streak to close the season. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT

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