Notre Dame football rates No. 17 in preseason coaches poll

ERIC HANSEN
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly’s fifth Irish team will start the 2014 season on Aug. 30 vs. Rice as the nation’s No. 17 team, per the Amway coaches poll, released Thursday.

A compliment? You betcha. A good omen? Not necessarily.

The sports writers’ version of the top 25, the AP poll, will be released Aug. 17. In the AP preseason rankings, Notre Dame has been ranked 10 times in the 17 seasons that followed the end of the Lou Holtz Coaching Era. The Aug. 17 release will likely make it 11.

In the 10 previous times ND started the season in the top 25 in those years, the Irish have never finished higher in the poll than where they started, and in seven of those seasons ND finished outside the top 25. Conversely, of the seven times ND was snubbed in the preseason AP Top 25, the Irish finished in the top 25 four of those times.

That included a No. 4 showing in the finals polls after the 2012 season. The Irish finished three in the coaches poll that year.

ND was ranked 14th in the preseason AP poll last year and finished 20th. The Irish (9-4) started 11th in the coaches poll last season and ended up 24th after their29-16 Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers.

Kelly is on the panel of voters for the coaches poll.

The Irish won’t see another ranked team until October, when they face No. 11 Stanford on the 4th, but that will be the first of five ranked opponents they’ll face over the final eight games of the season. The others are No. 1 Florida State on Oct. 18, No. 15 USC on Nov. 29, No. 18 Arizona State on Nov. 8 – all on the road -- and a home game with No. 23 North Carolina on Oct. 11.

Three other Irish opponents received votes in the poll – Michigan, Louisville and Northwestern.

The preseason Amway coaches poll: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/polls/smg-usat/2014/1/

South Bend Tribune/JAMES BROSHER Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson throws a shuffle pass during a football practice on Saturday, April 14, 2012, at Notre Dame.