With the release of the 2021 AP Poll to kick off the college football season, Notre Dame football certainly does not have an easy road.
When the 2021 AP Poll was released, signifying that the college football season is right around the corner, the Notre Dame football team was ranked at No. 9 overall. Based on how much talent they have lost this offseason, that was a fair ranking, and it showed that despite what some media members feel, they are still one of the top-10 teams in the country.
Alabama was No. 1, which is no surprise, and No. 3 is Clemson, the two teams that beat the Irish in back-to-back games to end their 2020 season. Oklahoma is the No. 2 team in the country to get the party started, with Ohio State and Georgia rounding out the top-5, a fair assessment, and ranking in my opinion.
Looking at the rest of the top-25, you do not have to go too far down to see some of the Notre Dame football opponents for the upcoming season. While some have said this will be an easy schedule for the Irish, they could not be more wrong.
Notre Dame football to play four top-25 ranked teams
Overall, the Notre Dame football team will play four teams ranked in the top-25 teams, but that does not paint the whole picture. In fact, the Irish will take on four teams in the top-15, as they will battle it out against Cincinnati (No. 8), North Carolina (No. 10), Wisconsin (No. 12), and USC (No. 15), a tough task for any program.
The North Carolina and USC games are back-to-back for Notre Dame, although they are both being played inside Notre Dame Stadium, as is the Cincinnati game. The Badgers game will be played inside Soldier Field, so of the four top-15 teams they play, none of them will have to be played inside their own building.
The Notre Dame football team should be solid on the defensive side of the ball, especially if these three players step up in a big way.
AP Polls are a good barometer of how teams are seen leading into the season, and they will also go a long way in determining if the Irish make the College Football Playoff down the road. All they can do is face the teams on their schedule, and after a perfect regular season in 2020, the road is a little steeper in 2021.