The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is in total disarray.
At the start of the season, Notre Dame was expected to be in the conversation when the 13-member College Football Playoff committee convened to discuss who were the top four FBS teams. However, seven weeks into the season, the Fighting Irish are a total disaster and on the verge of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
Notre Dame began the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press preseason poll and No. 9 in the Amway coaches poll. The Irish (2-4) are nowhere after dropping out in Week 4 of the polls. They have lost three of their last four games, following their 10-3 setback to North Carolina State on a waterlogged field as winds raged from Hurricane Matthew.
Notre Dame, which put up 28 points in each of its first five games, struggled mightily on offense against North Carolina State (4-1). The Fighting Irish managed just 113 yards of total offense on 64 plays, with only 54 of those yards coming through the air. The Irish converted only one of their 15 third-down attempts and turned the ball over three times.
Junior quarterback Deshone Kizer had his worst game of his career against North Carolina State as he completed nine of 26 passes and was picked off one time. He was also sacked five times and was limited to 15 rushing yards on 15 carries.
On the plus side, Notre Dame’s much-maligned defense limited the Wolfpack to 198 yards of total offense. The Irish kept the Pack’s sophomore quarterback Ryan Finley in check as he completed five passes for 27 yards. N.C. State did rush for 157 yards, however.
With the Fighting Irish’s slow start, it assures that Notre Dame’s streak of not attaining double-digit wins in a back-to-back season will be extended to 23 years, per Matt Fortuna of ESPN. The Irish finished last season with a 10-3 record after falling to Ohio State 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Notre Dame has a pretty tough schedule remaining, starting by hosting Stanford on October 15 and then No. 16 Miami on October 29, following a bye week. The Fighting Irish then play Navy and Army on consecutive weeks at neutral sites. They close the regular season by hosting No. 17 Virginia Tech on November 19 before traveling to USC on November 26.
Despite the Fighting Irish’s struggles, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN believes that head coach Brian Kelly’s job is safe.
“Notre Dame confirmed it is the nation’s biggest disappointment after falling to 2-4 Saturday at waterlogged Carter-Finley Stadium. Kelly continued to not push the right buttons, as the Irish used (in awful weather conditions) a mystifying offensive game plan that featured almost as many passes as rushes. Whether it’s a leaky defense or an occasionally unreliable offense, Notre Dame finds itself headed toward its worst season since 2007, when it endured a team-record nine losses.”
Kelly is the winningest active FBS coach, and he signed a six-year contract extension in January. The 54-year-old is 228-84-2 as a head coach, including 57-27 with the Irish. Notre Dame has won at least eight games in each of Kelly’s first six seasons, though they are 3-3 in bowl games, which includes a loss in the 2013 National Championship Game.
Notre Dame is not the only team having a disappointing season.
Florida State (4-2, 1-2 ACC): The Seminoles were also expected to be in the conversation as one of the best teams in college football this season, as they started the season ranked fourth in both the AP and Amway Coaches poll.
Florida State got a huge 20-19 victory over then-No. 10 Miami on Saturday night to keep their season from being a complete disappointment. The Seminoles were pounded by Louisville earlier this season (63-20) and lost at home to North Carolina (37-35) a few weeks ago.
Michigan State (2-3, 0-2 Big 10): The Spartans were seen as title contenders in the Big 10, but they are currently on a three-game losing streak. MSU was smoked by Wisconsin (30-6) and were surprised by Indiana (24-21) and BYU (31-14) the past two weeks.
Stanford (3-2, 2-2 Pac-12): The Cardinal were ranked in both polls preseason top-eight but have been shellacked during the last two games by No. 10 Washington (44-6) and Washington State (42-16). Star running back Christian McCaffrey is banged up, and Stanford offensive line has struggled. The Cardinal o-line has given up 3.2 sacks a contest, and they are averaging just 4.1 yards per carry, which is down from 5.1 last season.
Oregon (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12): The Ducks weren’t necessarily expected to compete for any title this season, but they did begin the campaign ranked in both polls.
Oregon has lost four in a row, surrendering 35 or more points in each of those games, which includes an astounding 70 to Washington this past week. The Ducks has been outscored 162-92 in Pac-12 play and 251-221 overall.
UCLA (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12): The Bruins started the season ranked in both polls and were expected to contend for the Pac-12 title this season. UCLA’s three wins have come against teams they were supposed to defeat, and one of their losses was to Stanford. The problem for the Bruins is that Texas A&M and Arizona State are better than they were projected to be.
LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC): The Tigers had aspirations of competing for a spot in the national playoff. LSU had two surprising losses — Auburn and Wisconsin– and fired coach Les Miles. Also, star running back Leonard Fournette, who has missed two games, has not had the Heisman-type season that was expected.
[Featured Image by Eric Gay/AP Image]