It’s a remarkable stat to ponder, but Notre Dame’s 10-3 finish in 2015 was good enough for the No. 10 ranking in the final AP poll following last season, marking the first time in the 21st century so far that the Fighting Irish have finished in the AP Top 25 three times over any four-season period.
While Brian Kelly’s squad has to take on the likes of Texas, Michigan State, Stanford and Southern Cal this fall, along with games against ACC opponents Duke, Syracuse, NC State, Miami and Virginia Tech, Notre Dame will have a good chance of earning Top 25 billing for the fourth time in the last five seasons at year’s end. That means that Kelly has the Irish situated in a period of sustained success not seen in South Bend since the days of Lou Holtz.
While Notre Dame’s legions of fans measure their program’s success by counting national championships, it’s been nearly 30 years since a Fighting Irish team has hoisted the NCAA title trophy. But Kelly has been the man who has gotten Notre Dame closest to the summit since 1988, reaching the national championship game following the 2012 regular season and putting the Irish in contention for a berth in the College Football Playoff each of the last two seasons only to fall a couple wins short.
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