Notre Dame Football: Bold Predictions And Hot Takes for 2018

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Brandon Wimbush /

We are getting closer and closer to fall camp, and it is about time our staff shares what could surprise Notre Dame football fans in 2018.

No matter the season — good, bad or ugly — there will always be surprises. Forecasting these bold predictions is typically the problem. So many variables go into a season, but that is the beauty of sports — and Notre Dame football.

At this time last year, no one expected Te’von Coney to lead Notre Dame in tackles, subsequently having that lead to a possible early departure for the NFL draft. In a more negative light, Equanimeous St. Brown was supposed to expand on his breakout sophomore campaign and become the next first round Notre Dame wide receiver. Both guys created different perceptions to their overall value on the football field.

These are only two examples of different bold predictions or hot takes someone could have had  prior to 2017. The Irish rushing attack was a big surprise and Brandon Wimbush disappointed in his first go around. Notre Dame was blowing out opponents left and right to start the season. I would have considered any of those opinions prior to the season fairly bold.

What could possibly be in store for Notre Dame this year? Our writers took their best crack at the surprises that could awaiting this Irish team this fall. 

Brandon Wimbush gets invited to NYC for the Heisman Ceremony (J.P. Scott)

If Notre Dame hovers around the College Football Playoff conversation for most of the year, just as they did in 2017, it’s very likely that Wimbush is the reason why. He should be an improved passer and will once again be one of the nation’s top rushing quarterbacks.

He’ll be a catalyst of a very good offense and will have no problem receiving enough exposure as the Irish quarterback. If the Irish get to ten wins in the regular season, Wimbush will get invited to New York City.

The Defense will have 30+ sacks this season (Jack Leniart)

With players like Jerry Tillery, Daelin Hayes, Jonathan Bonner, Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem returning in 2018, the defensive line is arguably the best position group on the team. In addition to those players, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Kurt Hinish and Ade Ogundeji are continuing to improve and will challenge incumbents for playing time.

When paired with Clark Lea’s disruptive defensive scheme, it should add up to a significant uptick in sacks and QB hurries this season.

Dexter Williams is a 1,000+ yard rusher and has more rushing TDs than Josh Adams last year (Connor McJunkin)

With the loss of Josh Adams to the NFL and dismissals of Deon McIntosh and CJ Holmes, both Williams and Tony Jones Jr. will be shouldering the bulk of the Irish run game this year. I think the explosive Williams, who averaged over 9 yards per rush last year, will get the majority of the touches and have a break-out year.

With how run-heavy the Irish can be, I think Williams will get more touches and lead this team in the run game in 2018.

Chris Finke will break the single season punt return record (Sonny Martinez)

Thanks in part to two punt return touchdowns. I know, it sounds crazy. The record is 459 yards, but he had 156 on just 24 returns last year. I think he will get a lot more chances to return punts in 2018, and there will be a big improvement in the numbers as a result.

Notre Dame goes undefeated for all true road games (Carlee North)

The Irish have four true road games this season and I predict they win them all. Those games aren’t any cake-walks either.

Notre Dames goes to Winston-Salem and Blacksburg to take on Wake Forest and Virginia Tech within two weeks of each other mid-season. They then have to travel to Evanston and Southern California to take on Northwestern and USC in the month of November — with USC of course being the regular season finale.

If there is one game that worries me about my prediction, it’s the Virginia Tech game. I would be shocked if the game isn’t a prime time night game, which doesn’t make things easier. However, I believe they get it done and end the season as road warriors.

Taking things a step further, I would also throw in that Notre Dame wins their two neutral sites games this fall against Navy (San Diego) and Syracuse (Yankee Stadium).

Notre Dame will have two 1,000-yard receivers in 2018 (Ben Belden)

This is really bold prediction, but one that I feel is a legitimate possibility. As Brandon Wimbush makes the jump as a quarterback, receivers Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool will, too. Coupled with the fact that Nelson, McGlinchey and Adams are gone, more emphasis will be put on the passing game.

It’s true that 1,000 yards for each is a pretty steep task, but I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if both at least get close.

Miles Boykin will lead the team in touchdowns (Mason Plummer)

Not the boldest of predictions, but with only 18 career receptions and 3 touchdowns heading into his fourth year at Notre Dame, I believe it’s worth a mention.

Four reasons led me to this prediction.

1) He has the size and ball skills to go up and get jump balls

2) He has underrated athleticism that could actually be labeled as insane for his size

3) He’s proven he can make his man miss in open space (see LSU catch)

4) Going off of No. 2, his speed is deceptive

Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool both have chances to elevate their play in 2018. I see Boykin as a better red zone threat, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he finished the year with 10+ receiving touchdowns.

Troy Pride Jr will overtake Julian Love as Notre Dame’s Top Corner (Nathan Erbach)

Pride is coming off a very impressive spring for the Irish and looks poised to make a big impact this fall. This was a tough prediction for me to make, because Love has been a rock for the Irish defense the past two seasons. However, Pride’s athletic ability is off the charts. He was recently picked as the fourth fastest player in college football, and everything is there for him to breakout in 2018.

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The other thing in Pride’s favor is the draft. With a good season, NFL scouts will be drooling over his potential at the next level. If he performs the way I think he can, he will become a household name sooner rather than later.