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Does Notre Dame Get Overrated? A Look at Recent Rankings and Results

Written by Connor D'Aquila | Writer | Twitter: @ConnorDaquilaIT


Photo via South Bend Tribune/Robert Franklin


“As always, Notre Dame overrated”

“Notre Dame are arguably the only team more overrated than Texas on a yearly basis”


These are just a couple of Tweets that came in response to Notre Dame’s 2023 preseason ranking of 13th by the AP and the Coaches Poll. Once again, we have reached that point when comment sections abound with remarks about ND being destined for a far lower finish or criticism of the strength of schedule. This year, it does seem, however, that many respect the schedule Swarbrick and the Irish have put together. With games against Ohio State, USC, and Clemson, they have three top-9 opponents in a six-game stretch in the middle of the season. Sports Illustrated found that Notre Dame’s opponents have the 18th-best win percentage from last season, but beyond a very select few teams, it is hard to find someone with tougher high-end games than the Irish. All this being said, it’s time to examine if Notre Dame is generally overrated in rankings.


Generally, the biggest point of contention comes from preseason favoritism. A quick look into historical results proves the futility of this claim, however. Last year, of course, some disappointing losses resulted in a final ranking of 18, down from their preseason number 5 spot. Moving back, in 2021, they finished one spot higher than the preseason, in 2020, they finished five spots higher, in 2018, they finished seven spots higher, and in 2017, they were preseason unranked but finished at eleven. In 2019, they had a mildly disappointing year and finished three spots lower than their preseason ranking. This means that in four out of the last six years, the Irish outperformed their preseason ranking, a far cry from being “overrated on a yearly basis.” Going further back, the results get a little more iffy, but in 2015 they finished and started at 11, and in 2012 they started unranked but ended in the national championship. Going back this far, we get a good idea of how the modern era of Notre Dame football has looked. Since Brian Kelly brought some level of consistency back to the program, they have tended to be ranked pretty fairly by experts.



Photo via ESPN


These final rankings do take bowl games into account, but recent big-game bowl struggles are another major narrative relating to being overrated. The Irish are 0-8 in their last eight BCS/New Year’s Six bowl games and have not won a major bowl since 1994. In more recent history, however, the team is 7-6 in their last 13 bowls. While this includes minor games, it shows that the team is being aptly placed and ranked. In three of those losses as well, Notre Dame was the lower-ranked team entering the game. In another, both Florida State and ND were unranked. While the Irish are certainly not winning the biggest games, they are also being put in games they belong in.


This year, Notre Dame has a strong opportunity to disprove the narrative yet again. They also very well could repeat the disappointment of last year. With those three top-9 games, the margin for error on the rest of the schedule is very low. One slip up against a weaker team could prove detrimental to the overall perception of the team, and the path to a ranking higher than 13th would get very difficult. A strong performance across the board, however, would mean a ranking far higher than 13th. There is a lot of uncertainty, but we can only hope that ND will once again prove the Twitter commenters wrong.



1 Comment


Luciano Antonini
Luciano Antonini
Aug 27, 2023


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