Notre Dame football lands at No. 7 in preseason coaches poll

Eric Hansen
ND Insider
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees  (center) missed practice Tuesday after undergoing an appendectomy Monday night.

Before he was able to publicly name captains, before Brian Kelly got through enough practices to mint a No. 1 QB, lofty expectations landed in the lap of the 12th-year Notre Dame head football coach on Tuesday.

Official, seemingly objective, lofty expectations

Notre Dame’s No. 7 in the USA Today college football coaches poll, released Tuesday, is its highest debut point in the Kelly Era. And only once in the post-Lou Holtz Era (1997-present) has an Irish team been ranked higher in the preseason coaches poll — Charlie Weis’ 2006 squad, at No. 3.

The Associated Press writers preseason poll drops next Monday at noon EDT.

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Defending national champion Alabama is No. 1, as voted by a panel of 65 coaches that includes Kelly. Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia complete the top five.

Four 2021 ND opponents are ranked, and the Irish play all four in a five game stretch —  No. 9 North Carolina, No. 10 Cincinnati, No. 14 USC and No. 15 Wisconsin. The only unranked team in that midseason run, Virginia Tech, received votes.

Notre Dame was ranked No. 10 in last year’s preseason coaches poll and finished No. 5. It was the second time in three seasons in which the Irish outperformed their preseason ranking.

That was a veteran-heavy team. This year’s squad, which completed practice No. 4 Tuesday with a heat index of 103 degrees, returns just nine starters but plenty of contributors from last year’s College Football Player qualifier.

The Irish (10-2 in 2020) go back to playing an independent schedule this season after playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ND opens with an ACC team, though, when the Irish meet Florida State Sept. 5 in Tallahassee, Fla.

USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll

Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @ehansenNDI