Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2021 College Football Preview

Notre Dame has appeared in the College Football Playoff twice in the last three seasons, and cracking the top four in 2021 would be incredibly impressive with all that the Irish need to replace.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will see plenty of changes for the football program in 2021. Notre Dame returns to Independent status and they need to replace a ton of talent on the roster with only a few returning starters.

The Irish played in a conference in 2020 for the first time in program history and they finished the regular season 10-0 overall and 9-0 in the conference before being blown out by Clemson in the ACC Championship game. The Fighting Irish were handled, yet again, by the eventual national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff semifinals to close out the campaign at 10-2.

A return to the CFP for a third time in four years is not the expectation this year for Notre Dame, as they will likely take a step back. Quarterback Ian Book was drafted in the NFL and replace by Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan, who I’m rooting for big time. Offensive line depth will also be a question as the Irish lost four starters among the group, including three draft picks.

Head Coach:

Brian Kelly

12th Season at Notre Dame: 102-39 (.723), 5-5 (.500) in Bowl Games.

31st Season Overall: 273-96-2 (.739), 7-6 (.539) in Bowl Games.

Key Players:

Quarterback Jack Coan (senior)

Jack Coan was expected to be the starting quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers heading into 2020, but a broken foot during preseason practice led to Graham Mertz starting every game. Coan was a very efficient quarterback for UW, especially in his lone season as a full-time starter in 2019. In 14 games in 2019, he completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions and led Wisconsin to the Big Ten Title game and a Rose Bowl appearance.

Running Back Kyren Williams (sophomore)

The Fighting Irish ran the ball more than they passed in 2020 and Kyren Williams broke out as a redshirt-freshman. He rushed for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns and had 35 receptions for 313 yards and a receiving touchdown. How the Notre Dame rushing attack will be interesting to watch as the offensive line room lost quite a bit of talent to the NFL.

Free Safety Kyle Hamilton (junior)

Kyle Hamilton is a very important piece to the success of the Notre Dame defense. The Fighting Irish lost defensive coordinator Clark Lea, who is now the head coach at Vanderbilt, and incoming defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will be helped out tremendously by Hamilton’s ability as an excellent tackler at the back end of the defense.

Odds From DraftKings Sportsbook:

To win the National Championship: +8000

Win Total: 9 (Over +100, Under -125)

Notre Dame’s 2021 Schedule:

September 5, @ Florida State

September 11, vs Toledo

September 18, vs Purdue

September 25, vs Wisconsin (at Soldier Field, Chicago)

October 2, vs Cincinnati

October 9, @ Virginia Tech

October 23, vs USC

October 30, vs North Carolina

November 6, vs Navy

November 13, @ Virginia

November 20, vs Georgia Tech

November 27, @ Stanford

One comment

  1. While Brian Kelly is an excellent coach, having done a great job at Cincinatti before his current job, we think he’s been around long enough that the top teams have figured him out. He’s consistently in the top 10, often in playoffs, which is a great job, but while Nick Saban and one other coach are around, he can’t crack the code, and there are at least two other teams that are going to make the ride far more difficult. This year, they’re barely beating huge underdogs. We think it’s time Brian move, for that’s often beneficial: a new start. In the mean time, Notre Dame has to be willing to pay much more if they’re going to attract a championship coach.


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