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Notre Dame’s strength of schedule is both better AND worse than most people think

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One of the bigger arguments is that Notre Dame doesn’t play anybody. That’s not true and here’s the proof for the past 20 years.

notre dame defense Mike Miller/One Foot Down

With the college football playoff in the books and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish #5 in the final AP Poll, I suppose we should start to move forward with 2019. Of course, there will be a few narratives that will follow the Irish and their fans around during the offseason.

One of them is NOTRE DAME AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY! That usually goes hand in hand with JOIN A CONFERENCE and NOTRE DAME ALWAYS PLAYS A WEAK SCHEDULE and OVERRATED and... well take your pick I guess.

Irish fans are quick to refute most negative statements about the football program, but they’re not changing anyone’s mind. I suppose that’s why I found this Reddit post so awesomely delicious as it beats back the haters in the simplest way... math.

I generally don’t use Sagarin ratings very often, but it definitely comes in handy here when looking at the scope of TWO decades. Twenty years ago is about the time the whole “overrated” and “doesn’t play anyone” and “join a conference” talk about Notre Dame gets its footing. The thing is... 20 years of data (1998-2017) shows the Irish average out with a #9 strength of schedule ranking.

This season, however, Notre Dame’s strength of schedule took a fairly big hit with the #31 ranking. Before the season began, it was a safe assumption that Notre Dame was going to have one of the toughest schedule in the nation. It didn’t quite work out that way with the Virginia Tech Hokies , Florida State Seminoles, USC Trojans, and Stanford Cardinal having down years according to their normal standards. If you’re argument that Notre Dame’s schedule was tougher than this ranking due to the ridiculous amount of travel they had compared to the other tip teams — I’m with you 100%, but no one else cares at all so that argument will fall on mostly deaf ears.

Notre Dame historically plays one of the toughest schedules in the country. The 2018 Notre Dame football schedule wasn’t as tough as we thought it was going to be.

Both of those above statements are true and are fact. Choose your arguments carefully.