We are steadily creeping into the 2021 preview and preview magazine season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and college football. There already have been — and will continue to be — a bunch of preseason rankings put out into the universe, and it’s been a subject of quite a bit of debate for Irish fans.
Next up on the docket is PFF and their army of math nerds (with all due respect and love). They ranked Notre Dame #8 — which is only one spot below where Phil Steele has predicted the Irish will be in the AP Poll in August.
While I think the ranking is fine, their blurb on the Irish leaves a lot to be desired:
On one hand, the Fighting Irish lose Ian Book. On the other hand, Book’s production was not necessarily what his name, or eventual draft status, would have indicated, with just 7.9 yards per pass attempt in 2020. Junior Kyren Williams returns after a year in which he racked up over 3.3 yards after contact while forcing 38 missed tackles and earning a 75.7 PFF grade. With C’Bo Flemister dealing with some off-field issues, look for Williams to be the lead back again in 2021.
I can’t say that I agree with their dismissal of Ian Book, although I do have pretty high expectations for Jack Coan at quarterback for the Irish. While Kyren Williams is important, non mentions of the offensive line and the best safety in college football means this ranking offers almost no real reasoning or insight.
Speaking of Kyle Hamilton... PFF has him graded at 76.7 which is hysterically low. Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones is rated 90.5 — so think about that for a moment.
As far as Irish opponents are concerned, PFF has Notre Dame’s foes ranked:
#11 North Carolina Tar Heels
#12 Cincinnati Bearcats
#14 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 USC Trojans
#28 Virginia Tech Hokies
#44 Stanford Cardinal
#48 Virginia Cavaliers
#65 Florida State Seminoles
#80 Purdue Boilermakers
#81 Toledo Rockets
#88 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#107 Navy Midshipmen