Preseason AP poll pegs Notre Dame at No. 9 in college football

Tyler James
ND Insider
Notre Dame received a preseason ranking of No. 9 in the AP poll for the second time in head coach Brian Kelly's tenure. The Irish haven't been ranked higher than ninth to start the season during that time.

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. 

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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 

1. Alabama 

2. Oklahoma 

3. Clemson 

4. Ohio State 

5. Georgia 

6. Texas A&M 

7. Iowa State 

8. Cincinnati 

9. Notre Dame 

10. North Carolina 

11. Oregon 

12. Wisconsin 

13. Florida 

14. Miami 

15. USC 

16. LSU 

17. Indiana 

18. Iowa 

19. Penn State 

20. Washington 

21. Texas 

22. Coastal Carolina 

23. Louisiana-Lafayette 

24. Utah 

25. Arizona State

Eric Hansen’s Top 25 

1. Alabama 

2. Ohio State 

3. Clemson 

4. Oklahoma 

5. Georgia 

6. Washington 

7. Texas A&M 

8. Notre Dame 

9. North Carolina 

10. Cincinnati 

11. USC 

12. Iowa State 

13. Wisconsin 

14. Iowa 

15. Oregon 

16. Florida 

17. Utah 

18. Indiana 

19. LSU 

20. Arizona State 

21. Texas 

22. Boston College 

23. Penn State 

24. UCF 

25. Liberty

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.