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Brian Kelly And His Close Games At Notre Dame

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Notre Dame games can be good games to watch... too good.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Brian Kelly’s arrival at Notre Dame, the football program has been in a dog fight. Although I can say with confidence that the football program is light years ahead of what it was during the Davie/Willingham/Weis era, there still seems to be room for improvement (to put an optimistic spin on it).

One of the many problems that Notre Dame has right now is that it is too good of a product. What do I mean? Imagine you’re a college football fan with no real bias one way or another towards Notre Dame. That seems strange, but I suppose that some do exist- and even if they can’t keep their bias against Notre Dame out of their opinion... they can admit a good game when they see one.

Brian Kelly is 56-25 during his time at Notre Dame. That’s 81 games y’all. Notre Dame has been involved in a one score final (8 points or less) in 37 of those games. That’s almost half of the games that Brian Kelly has coached have been within one score.

Let that sink in a moment and maybe you’ll understand why Notre Dame fans are a bit edgy these days. Here’s the rundown:

YEAR WIN LOSS OPPONENT
2010 X MICHIGAN
2010 X MICHIGAN STATE
2010 X PITT
2010 X TULSA
2010 X USC
2011 X SOUTH FLORIDA
2011 X MICHIGAN
2011 X
PITT
2011 X WAKE FOREST
2011 X BOSTON COLLEGE
2011 X FLORIDA STATE
2012 X PURDUE
2012 X MICHIGAN
2012 X STANFORD
2012 X PITT
2012 X BYU
2013 X PURDUE
2013 X MICHIGAN STATE
2013 X ARIZONA STATE
2013 X
USC
2013 X NAVY
2013 X PITT
2013 X STANFORD
2014 X STANFORD
2014 X NORTH CAROLINA
2014 X FLORIDA STATE
2014 X NORTHWESTERN
2014 X LOUISVILLE
2014 X LSU
2015 X VIRGINIA
2015 X GEORGIA TECH
2015 X CLEMSON
2015 X TEMPLE
2015 X BOSTON COLLEGE
2015 X STANFORD
2016 X TEXAS
2016 X MICHIGAN STATE

37 games and Notre Dame is 22-15 in those games. That’s not even a .600 winning percentage.

Notre Dame football is a great product to sell and it’s no wonder that networks bend over backwards to place them in prime time as much as possible (fist pumping the nooner against Syracuse). However, this is not great news to Notre Dame fans.

If Notre Dame wants to be elite, they have to cut their average of about 6 close games a year in half. They had 5 in 2012, and most of the fanbase could barely enjoy the ride to being undefeated because they were reaching for their blood pressure medicine.

Championship teams, on average are teams that mostly plow through their schedule. Maybe they are not all blowouts, but their is a HUGE difference in 10 point wins as opposed to 8 point wins. Perception is reality, and in the era of committees deciding who gets a shot at the title, perception is KING.

Brian Kelly is a good head coach and has done an immeasurable service for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program. However... all of that will be moot if these games don’t get turned around.