Welcome to the inaugural OFD Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Power Ranking! Last year I did a fun shtick where I compared Notre Dame opponents to some abstract thing and I think it went pretty well. The problem is, Boston College is back on the schedule this year and I just couldn’t bring myself to tag them as anything other than Fredo — and Josh would have looked down on me just copy and pasting the same dang article over again. So we’re going to do something different this year. Power rankings!
So what does that mean? I’m glad you asked! For years I would get mildly annoyed when rosters would be compared based simply on class ranking. As we’ve found in recent years in relation to Notre Dame, a sizable component of recruiting ranking is class size and the Irish typically aren’t signing the 25-27 player classes that a lot of other programs are. Last year the Irish finished 18th, and they only signed 17 kids. When you look at the average rating of the players they signed however, they end up tied 9th with Florida. In terms of talent, it was a top ten class. So that’s what I’ve set out to do.
I’ve compiled the recruiting ranking for every scholarship player that Notre Dame plays this season. This includes players who transferred in and excludes players that transferred out. I’ve then averaged all those numbers out and created a true talent index of all 11 Notre Dame opponents.
I will release the numbers and rankings of each opponent as the season progresses. During the bye week, I’ll reveal where the Irish stand. So without further ado...
The Blue Devils of Duke University
Duke Roster Average Ranking
It doesn’t surprise me at all to see the Duke Blue Devil’s numbers break they way they do. The offense has more talent than the defense and the two most talented positions are Quarterback and Offensive Tackle. Those two positions were bolstered this off-season by incoming transfers in former Clemson Quarterback Chase Brice (.8818, 9th highest rated overall) and Stanford tackle Devery Hamilton (.9085, highest rated). Duke finished last season with the 109th ranked rushing offense averaging at just 3.64 yards per game and that bares out with running back being far and away their least talented position group at just 0.8395.
Victor Dimokeje is a classic case of production over projection. Coming out of high school he was a low 3 star, with just a 0.8415 rating. To put that in perspective, Kofi Wardlow had a 0.8427 rating. Dimokeje racked up 8.5 sacks last year, which was the fifth most in a season by a Duke player. In fact, Duke as a team ended up with 35 sacks last year, a total they haven’t matched in over a decade. Opposite Dimokeje is Chris Rumph II who had 6.5 sacks last year and, while Dimokeje brings more of a physical presence at 265lb, Rumph figures to be the speed option at 235lb. The reason I believe Dimokeje is the player to key in on is due to my belief that the Irish will focus on the run this Saturday. We saw a lot of sloppy tackling in the opening games last weekend, culminating with whatever Navy was putting on the field Monday night.
Whatever the reasons for Javon McKinley beating out Braden Lenzy and Brock Wright over Tommy Tremble, the fact is both starters are superior options as blockers. That added with Duke having an effective pass rush, I have to imagine Tommy Rees plans on leaning on a veteran Irish offensive line and the shiny new toys at RB (Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree). Liam Eichenberg looks to join every left tackle to have ever played for Brian Kelly at Notre Dame by going in the first round in the NFL draft this spring.
What better way to start that journey by dominating one of the 3-4 most highly regarded defensive ends in the ACC to start the season?