Preseason AP poll pegs Notre Dame at No. 9 in college football
When Notre Dame last started a football season ranked ninth in the preseason poll conducted by The Associated Press, the Irish were coming off a lopsided loss in a College Football Playoff semifinal to Clemson.
That No. 9 ranking in 2019 was Notre Dame’s highest AP preseason ranking of the Brian Kelly Era and its second-highest ranking (No. 2 in 2006) since Lou Holtz stopped coaching the Irish following the 1996 season.
The Irish found themselves in the same spot Monday — ranked No. 9 — when the AP released its 2021 preseason Top 25 seven months after another lopsided loss in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Notre Dame was ranked No. 10 in the AP preseason poll last season and ended the season ranked No. 5 with a 10-2 record. When the Irish started the season at No. 9 in 2019, they finished the season 11-2 and ranked No. 12.
A two-loss projection for Notre Dame’s 2021 season seems reasonable given the turnover on Notre Dame’s roster — nine NFL Draft picks and five more players who started at least eight games last season — and the gauntlet in the middle of Notre Dame’s schedule.
Four of Notre Dame’s 2021 opponents are ranked in the AP’s preseason Top 25 — No. 8 Cincinnati, No. 10 North Carolina, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 15 USC — and the Irish are slated to play those four games in span of 43 days.
That tough stretch will start in Chicago’s Soldier Field against Wisconsin on Sept. 25 before the Irish host Cincinnati on Oct 2. A road trip to Virginia Tech on Oct. 9 and an off week that follows it will come before the Irish host USC (Oct. 23) and North Carolina (Oct. 30).
Notre Dame, which was ranked No. 7 in last week's USA TODAY coaches poll, opens its season at Florida State on Sunday, Sept. 5 on ABC at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
The AP poll compiles the votes of 62 sports writers and broadcasters. ND Insider’s Eric Hansen ranked Notre Dame No. 8 in his preseason poll for the AP.
AP Top 25
4. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State
9. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
19. Penn State
22. Coastal Carolina
25. Arizona State
Eric Hansen’s Top 25
2. Ohio State
7. Texas A&M
8. Notre Dame
9. North Carolina
12. Iowa State
20. Arizona State
22. Boston College
23. Penn State
Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.