Top 25 playoff teams: Notre Dame

Personnel losses, tough schedule will make a difficult road to the playoff

Updated: May 28, 2014, 3:04 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Everett GolsonJoel Auerbach/Getty ImagesEverett Golson has had success at QB for Notre Dame, when he's been on the field.

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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Fremeau's projection

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.