High Expectations for The Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Football Expectations. Media by Wyatt Moser
Notre Dame Football Expectations. Assembled by Wyatt Moser.

The University of Notre Dame is located in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame is known as a football school. When people think of Notre Dame most, instantly think of Notre Dame Football. The Notre Dame Football team started all the way back in 1877. Throughout the history of the football program, there have been many coaches and players who rose to glory. Names like Lou Holtz, Knute Rockne, Joe Montana, and of course Rudy are some of the most iconic players and coaches in Notre Dame Football history. 

The Notre Dame mascot runs onto the field to celebrate. Media by USA Today.

Notre Dame Football is independent, so they do not belong to a conference. They have a contract with the ACC to play five ACC teams a year. With the pandemic causing schedule changes and some conferences opting out of the season originally, Notre Dame then agreed to join the ACC for this season only. The ACC has been dominated by Clemson the last five years and is looking to add its sixth conference championship in a row. This year ,Clemson is still dominating the conference but does have a blemish on their record from the overtime loss to Notre Dame. Notre Dame has been familiar with Clemson recently with their regular-season matchup in 2015 and their playoff matchup in 2018. Clemson won in 2015 24-22 and in the 2018 Cotton Bowl, Clemson ran away with a 30-3 win. 

Whether the Fighting Irish joined the ACC or not this year, the Tigers were already scheduled. This was a rematch of the 2018 Cotton Bowl which ended with the Irish being blown out. Notre Dame and Clemson were both undefeated going into the rematch. This game looked like Notre Dame might run away with it until the Tigers were right back in it. It went back and forth to the very end eventually forcing the game into overtime in which the Irish took over and escaped with a 47-40 win. This win was a turning point for the program in the right direction, which is back to being at the top each season. 

Notre Dame wide receiver makes a diving catch vs. Clemson. Media by Notre Dame Athletics.

After the big win over Clemson, the Irish haven’t looked back. The Irish are now undefeated and heading to their first conference championship for the first time ever. The Irish are heading into the ACC Championship game undefeated with what will be a rematch with Clemson. This game has major playoff implications for both teams. The Irish have a higher chance of making the playoffs than Clemson having no losses to their one. If Notre Dame wins, that will secure their playoff spot, which would presumably put the Irish at the one or two spots. If Clemson wins it would shake up the playoff outlook. It would potentially secure the Tigers a playoff spot with the Irish falling to the final two spots or right on the outside looking in. 

The win over Clemson has raised the question if this is the turning point in the program. Greenville offensive coordinator/assistant football coach Josh Flannery, someone who is familiar with Notre Dame believes it was a turning point in the program. “Notre Dame beating Clemson was a big deal for sure.” Most people believe it to be a turning point for them, but the real test for the Irish awaits. 

Media by Wyatt Moser.


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