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What are reasonable expectations for Notre Dame in 2018?

I try to take off my “fan” hat and put on my “unbiased journalist” hat.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football just like the rest of you. As time has gone on, I have become more rational in how I look at Notre Dame football. I used to think they were going to win every single game. I also used to overreact to every loss. I will do my best to give us crazy Notre Dame fans some reasonable expectations.

First off, this team is NOT going 12-0 undefeated. The schedule is too hard and Brandon Wimbush has not shown he can consistently be a top level quarterback. When Notre Dame loses their first game, can we please not call for Brian Kelly’s job? Everyone knows that they are eventually going to lose a game.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame vs Louisiana State Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The four hardest games are going to be Michigan, Stanford, Florida State and USC. A reasonable result of this would be a 50/50 split. Going 2-2 in these games would not be the end of the world. These are some big boy college football programs. Nobody else in the country plays a schedule like this. Now is it possible they go 3-1 in these games? Absolutely. If Brandon Wimbush shows improvement and the safety play takes a step forward, then of course they could go 3-1. Can they go 4-0? Chances are very slim as Notre Dame would have to catch a few breaks.

There are also four games that I consider wins if Notre Dame just shows up focused to play. Those games are Ball State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Syracuse. The likely record from these four games is 4-0. Notre Dame should win these games.

The other four games are toss up games. You can make a reasonable case for both teams to win the game. Those opponents are Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Navy and Northwestern. Going 4-0 is somewhat unlikely as I would guess 3-1 would be Notre Dame’s record for these games.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

This is my reasonable breakdown of the schedule. It hurts to write anything about Notre Dame having any record other than 12-0. But I think it is important fans know what reasonable expectations are going into the season.

I would say 9-3 is most likely.

Going 8-4 is under-performing and going 10-2 would be considered a great season.

An exceptional season would be 11-1.

12-0? Us fans can only dream...