Top 25 playoff teams: Notre Dame
Personnel losses, tough schedule will make a difficult road to the playoff
From May 27-July 3, Insider's college football experts will preview the season for the 25 teams with the best chance to make the inaugural college football playoff, based on Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections. This is the entry for Notre Dame.
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Projected finish: 7-5
Chance to make playoff: 1 percent
Toughest games: Oct. 4 vs. Stanford (33 percent chance of winning), Oct. 18 at Florida State (15 percent), Nov. 29 at USC (31 percent)
Why they'll make the playoff
1. A deep and talented set of skill-position players
Prime among this group is former starting quarterback Everett Golson. Golson helped lead the Irish to the 2013 BCS title game and has a history of performing superbly in the bad decision rate (BDR) metric that gauges how often a passer makes a mental error that leads to a turnover opportunity for the opposing team. Malik Zaire, who is giving Golson serious competition for this year's starting quarterback role, played extremely well in the Blue-Gold spring game and helps give the Irish one of the deepest quarterback rosters in college football.
In addition, Notre Dame has a trio of talented ball carriers. Cam McDaniel led the team in rushing yards (704) and posted an above-average 8.8-yard mark in the good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric that gauges a rusher's productivity on plays with good blocking (which is very roughly defined as when the offense does not allow the defense to disrupt a rush attempt). Sophomore Tarean Folston impressed with his 8.4 GBYPA last season. And the best of the group could be Greg Bryant, a former four-star prospect who was the No. 2 running back in ESPN's 2013 recruiting rankings.
To see more of KC Joyner's preview of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish's season, and to gain access to all of Insider's CFB content, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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