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.
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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
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.