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Top 5 Notre Dame Football offenses from the last 30 years

A top 5 scoring ranking of Irish offenses between 1993 and 2022.

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 10 Navy at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last 30 years have given a lot for Notre Dame football fans to chew on. We’ve seen 6 head coaches (varying tenure lengths in South Bend), a weird stare off relationship with conference alignment, the emergence of NIL & transfer portal, stellar talents but a general rollercoaster of on field performance.

So why not take some of our downtime prepping for the Irish’s 2023 campaign at the Irish program’s helm to dig through the data crates?

Today’s selection takes on the task of identifying the five best scoring offenses for Notre Dame football between 1993 and 2022. The period is bookended by Lou Holtz’s fourth to last year with the program and Marcus Freeman’s first season. The criteria for “best scoring” is the most offensive (passing + rushing) touchdowns for the season.

And here are the results.

Brian Kelly Note

Brian Kelly offenses make up the bulk of this list. While we’ve all probably got our gripes with Kelly (mostly justified), his tenure accounted for a significant portion of Irish footballs success over the last 3 decades. This is especially the case on the offensive side of things. One important caveat, that there are likely a million takes about, related to Kelly’s offensive dominance is that the universe of college football has placed much more of a premium on offensive production in the last 15 years.

#1 – 2019 Offense

Kelly’s 2019 campaign tops the list for top scoring offenses in recent times. During that season, the offense tallied up a total of 57 trips to the end zone. The offensive production translated into a pretty successful season overall. The Irish’s final record was 11-2 and they outscored opponents 478 to 233. They also averaged 36.8 points per game, compared with 17.9 points per game for opponents. Notre Dame ended its season with a Camping World Bowl win (33-9) against Iowa State.

The offensive stars for this high-powered season were Ian Book at QB, Tony Jones Jr. on the rushing side as well as Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet in the receiving corps.

#2 – 2017 Offense

BK’s 2017 campaign comes in second on the list. During that season, the offense racked up 55 total touchdowns. The Irish’s final record was 10-3 and they outscored opponents 445 to 279. They also averaged 34.2 points per game, compared with 21.5 points per game for opponents. The squad ended its season with a Citrus Bowl victory (21-17) against LSU.

The offensive standouts were Brandon Wimbush at QB, Josh Adams in the backfield and Equanimeous St. Brown in the receiving corps.

#3 – Tie: 2014 and 2015 Offenses

The third spot on the list is a tie between Notre Dame’s 2014 and 2015 seasons. In bout outings, the Irish pulled in 54 total touchdowns. The Irish averaged 32.8 points per game in 2014 compared with 34.2 points per game in 2015. Things diverge pretty sharply from there, though. In 2014, the team finished 8-5 overall compared with 10-3 in 2015. The 2014 squad outscored opponents 427 to 379 and the 2015 team outscored opponents 445 to 313. Still, the 2014 team managed to pull off a Music City Bowl win (31-28) against LSU while the 2015 squad lost 22-48 in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

Everett Golson, Tarean Folston and Corey Robinson were the offensive stars in 2014 and Deshone Kizer, C.J. Prosise, Josh Adams and Chris Brown stood out in 2015. Will Fuller was a common offensive weapon between the two seasons.

#4 – Tie: 2005 and 2021 Offenses

The fourth spot is also a tie with Charlie Weis’ 2005 team matching Brian Kelly’s 2021 squad at 53 total touch downs. The 2005 group finished 9-3 overall and outscored their opponents 440 to 294. They also averaged 36.7 points per game compared with 24.5 points per game for opponents.

The Irish’s 2021 team closed out the season 11-2 and outscored their opponents 458 to 256. They averaged 35.2 points per game compared with 19.7 points per game for opponents.

Oddly enough, both seasons ended in Fiesta Bowl losses. Weis’ team lost 20-34 to Ohio State and BK’s team lost 35-37 to Oklahoma State.

Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, Anthony Fasano and Matt Shelton were the offensive stars in 2005 and Jack Coan, Kyren Williams and Michael Mayer were the standouts in 2021.

#5 – 2006 Offense

The list is rounded out with Charlie Weis’ 2006 product.

During that campaign, the Irish offense tallied up 51 total touchdowns and the team outscored opponents 403 to 310. They also averaged 31 points per game, compared with 23.8 points per game for opponents.

The season wrapped up with yet another LSU matchup. This time the venue was the Sugar Bowl down in New Orleans and ultimately resulted in a 14-41 loss to the Tigers.

Final Thoughts

Brian Kelly and Charlies Weis can take credit for producing the most high-powered offenses that the Notre Dame football program has seen over the last 30 years. Both coaches’ tenures were also characterized by some real offensive low points, I think we can all hang our hats (at least lightly) on optimist projections for Marcus Freeman to deliver successful offenses. In his first season, the offense put up 50 touchdowns (sure as hell didn’t feel like it) and would’ve tied at #6 with Kelly’s 2018 team. I’ll take that as good news.

Cheers and Go Irish!!