2019 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team Preview

2018 Season in Review

The Irish had a strong year in 2018, running the table in the regular season before getting embarrassed by the eventual champion, Clemson Tigers, in their College Football Playoff semi-final.

Notre Dame put coach Brian Kelly through a roller coaster, with impressive wins over ranked opponents Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. At the same time, however, their playoff hopes were nearly derailed in single digit wins over middling teams like Ball State, Vanderbilt, and Pittsburgh.

After a someone slow start offensively, the Irish started clicking in their fourth game against Wake Forest, when Ian Book relieved the now departed Brandon Wimbush at quarterback. With Dexter Williams starring at running back, Book was able to manage the game on offense while leaning on a tough defense that surrendered just 207.9 passing yards per game.

Also check out our preview of the 2019 Clemson Tigers team and the Alabama Crimson Tide team.

Key Returning Players (2018 Stats)

  • QB Ian Book (Senior) – 2,628 Pass Yards | 19 Pass TD | 7 INT
  • WR Chase Claypool (Senior) – 50 Receptions | 639 Rec Yards | 4 Rec TD
  • DE Julian Okwara (Senior) – 39 Total Tackles | 8.0 Sacks | 12.5 TFL
  • S Jalen Elliott (Senior) – 67 Total Tackles | 4 INT | 7 Pass Def

Long an advocate for dominating the trenches, coach Kelly will gladly welcome back an offensive line unit that will be dominated by upperclassmen. Book’s blindside will likely be watched by senior left tackle Liam Eichenberg, while fellow senior Tommy Kraemer should slot in at right guard.

Book will welcome back a handful of his weapons from last year, namely receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke. The run game will be buoyed by Jafar Armstrong who will make the switch from receiver, while Tony Jones Jr. should get a fair share of carries as well.

The defense should be strong again this season, as they return a pair of tough pass rushers in Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem on the front four. Both safety positions will be manned by Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott, the former being the top returning tackler while the latter led the team with interceptions.

Key Departures

  • DT Jerry Tillery (NFL Draft)
  • CB Julian Love (NFL Draft)
  • WR Miles Boykin (NFL Draft)
  • LB Drue Tranquill (NFL Draft)

Although the Irish did not lose as much talent to the draft as other powerhouse programs, some departures of the departures will hit hard. The most glaring losses were at the linebacker position, with Drue Tranquill drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers and Te’von Coney having graduated.

Notre Dame also lost key bodies at skill positions, as Dexter Williams, leading receiver Miles Boykin, and tight end Alize Mack are now on NFL rosters. Lastly, the speical teams unit will have new faces with the graduation of punter Tyler Newsome and kicker Justin Yoon, who left Notre Dame as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Notable Recruits (Star Ratings and Rankings According to Rivals.com)

  • OT Quinn Carroll – 4 Star | 6-6, 280lb | Edina HS | Edina, MN
  • CB Isaiah Rutherford – 4 Star | 6-2, 170lb | Jesuit HS | Carmichael, CA
  • OG Zeke Correll – 4 Star | 6-4, 275lb | Anderson HS | Cincinnati, OH
  • S Kyle Hamilton – 4 Star | 6-3, 183lb | Marist School | Atlanta, GA

Notre Dame’s recruiting class does not jump off the charts, with no 5-star prospects among the 22 commitments. With the 14th ranked class in the nation, Brian Kelly is aiming more for depth rather than home run hits. The Irish went heavy on defense and the offensive line, with three of their top five signees listed as defensive backs.

2019 Schedule

DateOpponent
September 2nd@ Louisville
September 14thNew Mexico
September 21st@ Georgia
September 28thVirginia
October 5thBowling Green
October 12thSouthern California
October 26th@ Michigan
November 2ndVirginia Tech
November 9th@ Duke
November 16thNavy
November 23rdBoston College
November 30th@ Stanford

Coach Kelly has twice navigated Notre Dame through undefeated seasons while dealing with very tough schedules. This season will be no different, with difficult road tests against Georgia, Michigan and Stanford. USC should rebound from a down season as well, which should create a large deviation between the best and worst case scenarios for the Irish. On the flip side, this tough schedule should impress the playoff selection committee and help make up for the fact that the Irish does not play in a conference.

Where to Bet on Win Totals and Playoff Odds in New Jersey

New Jersey residents can wager on Notre Dame’s playoff odds and win total on 888Sport, where the over/under is currently listed at 9.5 wins. Given their struggles in last year’s playoff, the committee may be hesitant to put them in again. However, although the schedule appears formidable, all of their opponents are far from flawless, making another undefeated season not impossible.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Make the Playoffs

SportsbookYesNoLink
888Sport NJ+400-560

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Number of Games Won – Excluding Bowl Games & Play Offs

Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.

SportsbookOver 9.5Under 9.5Link
888Sport NJ+118-143

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER