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Notre Dame took a different path to finish where most had them predicted

Did you predict a college football playoff year?

Notre Dame v Stanford Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A 45-24 win over the Stanford Cardinal gave the Notre Dame Fighting Irish its 10th win of the season. This, of course, is a pretty big deal because it now means the Irish have won double digit games for the first time since a stretch during the 1991-1993 seasons. It also makes the turnaround from 4-8 in 2016 almost complete with its 32-6 record.

A lot of Irish fans won’t be happy unless they’re winning the national championship, and I get that — I really do. Still, no one should take this run for granted given how many seasons have gone by since that run in the early nineties.

Before the year began, most had Notre Dame winning somewhere between 9 and 11 games. From what I remember seeing, the most common prediction was 10-2. And so... Notre Dame gets a 10-2 record and a good number of fans are having a hard time accepting this as a good thing. Obviously the terrible loss to Michigan is a large reason why opinions are less bright, but frustrations about the offense have magnified everything.

Notre Dame v Stanford Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With the regular season all said and done, Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 37.08 scoring average per game while only allowing 18.66 defensively. They’re similar numbers to what the Irish did last season, but Notre Dame never made that massive change at quarterback to give the “bumps in the road” cause.

It all means that the same frustrations that were glossed over last year with wins were able to be fully realized in the losses to Georgia and Michigan while always sitting in the back of our minds during a lot of the other games.

And yet they still won 10 games.

Preseason predictions also favored the Irish to land in the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl (even with a 10-2 record). A college football season that produced weeks of teams continually munching on cupcakes with maybe a big game mixed in has caused a log jam from #6-#17 (ish). That one terrible loss has hung on the necks of Notre Dame more than perhaps it would in other seasons — so here comes the Camping World Bowl (probably).

It was such an odd journey that maybe the Camping World Bowl is exactly the right fit, so that certainly justifies the frustration level of many that are still mad Notre Dame only beat Stanford by 21.

Here are a bunch of other reasons why the journey was odd and frustrating:

  • Injuries.
  • The almost complete lack of Jafar Armstrong which was a HUGE part of the ND plan.
  • False starts.
  • A very mediocre run game with actual running backs.
  • A defense that failed to show up for one game on the road (along with the rest of the team).
  • An inconsistent Ian Book when consistency was supposed to be his thing.
  • Brian Kelly is still the head coach.

All of those items listed added to some fan’s displeasure with a 10 win season, and helped them dismiss:

  • A new linebacker group developing into a really good unit.
  • Chase Claypool as a dominant player.
  • Cole Kmet becoming one of the best TE’s in the country.
  • Still finding ways to get rushing yards.
  • A really good special teams unit highlighted by Jonathan Doerer and Jay Bramblett.
  • Beating USC and Stanford.
  • 10 freaking wins.
  • A large number set to return for 2020.

2019 wasn’t perfect, and we’ve gone a little grayer because of it — but Notre Dame is basically what most thought they were. They’re a good football team, but not great — not yet. Maybe that’s next year, and maybe the bowl game will set it all up.

It’s 10 wins. I’m fine.