The first six weeks of the season were a grind for Notre Dame, who enter the bye week with a 5-1 record and a No. 14 national ranking. Notre Dame's bye week came at a perfect time, and when they come out of it the Irish faithful hope that the program can continue its strong success following a break.
During the previous 11 seasons of the Brian Kelly era the Irish have had 14 regular season bye weeks, and Notre Dame is 12-2 in those ball games. Notre Dame starts the second half of the season with long-time rival USC, a team the Irish played three times following byes in Kelly's tenure, and the Irish are 2-1 in those matchups.
Notre Dame outscored its 14 post-bye week opponents by an average score of 33-18.
Notre Dame's first bye of the Kelly era came in 2010, and the Irish went into that break with a 4-5 record and were coming off a loss to Tulsa. Notre Dame bounced back in impressive fashion, beating 14th-ranked Utah by a 28-3 score.
The first bye week loss of the Kelly era came at home in 2011 when Notre Dame fell to USC by a 31-17 score. Notre Dame came into that matchup riding a four-game win streak, and it marked the first time the Irish wore the current gold helmets in a game. After falling behind 17-0 the Irish twice cut the lead to a touchdown by could never get any closer.
Notre Dame won its next nine games following a bye, including a dominant 41-3 victory over Miami in 2012. The Irish won a pair of post-bye week games in 2013, beating USC (14-10) and BYU (23-13). Current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees started both of those 2013 contests but was knocked out of the win over USC. The Irish offense stalled completely when he went out but the defense held firm.
Notre Dame also had a pair of byes in 2014, beating Syracuse (31-15) and Navy (49-39). Notre Dame went on the road and beat #21 Temple in 2015 by a 24-20 score. The Irish trailed 20-17 late in the fourth quarter but quarterback DeShone Kizer hit wideout Will Fuller for a 17-yard touchdown with just over two minutes to seal the win.
The 2016 season was a disaster for Notre Dame, but the Irish did earn a post-bye week victory, beating Miami by a 30-27 score at home.
Notre Dame's second win over USC after a bye came in 2017 when the Irish destroyed the Trojans by a 49-14 score. The Irish rushed for 377 yards and five touchdowns in the victory.
Notre Dame earned a 44-22 victory over Navy in 2018 and beat Florida State by a 42-26 margin after a long bye last season. Notre Dame's second bye week victory in 2020 was a 31-17 road victory over #18 North Carolina.
The black eye on Kelly's post-bye resume came in 2019 when the Irish traveled to Ann Arbor and got throttled by Michigan (45-14).
Kelly and Notre Dame must get off to a strong start during the second half of the 2021 season. The Irish will need to use the bye week to work out some kinks on defense and figure out a way to get its offense going in the right direction.
If Notre Dame can do that, and if it can continue the strong post-bye week success we've see the previous 11 seasons it will kick off the second half of the season with a beatdown of the Trojans.
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