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Notre Dame Ranked 6th In Sports Illustrated Preseason Top 25

Notre Dame checked in at No. 6 in the Sports Illustrated preseason rankings

The preseason rankings continue to roll in and Notre Dame continues to find itself near the top of the rankings. Sports Illustrated released its preseason Top 25 and the Fighting Irish checked in at No. 6 in the rankings.

Sports Illustrated has the Irish ranked high, but author Pat Forde expressed questions about the Irish heading into the first year of the Marcus Freeman era.

"Is this too high for a team with a new head coach and a new starting quarterback? Probably. But everyone after the top three has question marks. The proven commodities on the Fighting Irish roster include some big-time talents: tight end Michael Mayer, center Jarrett Patterson, defensive end Isaiah Foskey, middle linebacker JD Bertrand and Northwestern transfer safety Brandon Joseph. The season-ending injury to receiver Avery Davis in preseason camp takes away a big-play threat." - Forde

Four of Notre Dame's opponents also found themselves inside the SI Top 25, including three in the Top 10.

Ohio State is Notre Dame's highest ranked opponent, checking in at No. 2 in the preseason rankings. There is no doubt the matchup of the No. 6 Fighting Irish and the No. 2 Buckeyes will be the biggest of the opening weekend of the season.

"This is the best offensive team in the nation, probably by a wide margin. There are potential first-team All-Americans in the passing game (quarterback C.J. Stroud and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba), the running game (TreVeyon Henderson) and the trenches (tackle Paris Johnson Jr.). The Buckeyes’ defense was not great last year, especially at the point of attack, which is why Ryan Day grabbed coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State and is paying him $1.9 million a year. Improve on that side of the ball, and Ohio State could win it all." - Forde

Notre Dame doesn't play Clemson until November 5th, and we'll have a much better idea of just how good the Tigers are by the time that matchup rolls around. Despite struggling to a 10-3 record last season, Dabo Swinney's squad is expected to bounce back, and Forde has the Tigers ranked No. 7.

"This is a new chapter of sorts for Dabo Swinney, who for the first time in a decade will not have trusted assistants Brent Venables and Tony Elliott on his staff. Swinney also must figure out whether quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is the phenom who flashed as a freshman or the disappointment we saw as a sophomore. This much seems certain: The Tigers should once again be a nasty defensive unit, especially up front, where end Myles Murphy and tackle Bryan Bresee have first-round NFL talent." - Forde

Southern Cal went 4-8 last season, and it was an ugly 4-8 that included a 42-28 loss to Stanford, a 45-27 loss to Oregon State and a 62-33 loss to UCLA. Notre Dame didn't play very well against the Trojans, but the Irish still earned a convincing 31-16 victory.

A new coach and a lot of transfers have Forde believing USC is prepared for a major bounce back. The SI writer ranks USC as the No 9 preseason team in the country.

"No team worked a more radical revamp in the offseason than the Trojans. They acquired a rock-star new coach, new standout quarterback, new star running back and multiple new star receivers. Lincoln Riley is talking boldly: “We didn’t come here to play for second; we are not wired that way. We came here competitively to win championships, win them now and to win them for a long time.” Excitement for USC football has skyrocketed accordingly. The hard part is fixing a bad defense and lackluster offensive line—areas where quick revamps don’t happen often. USC’s 6.37 yards allowed per play was 112th nationally last year." - Forde

Notre Dame heads to Las Vegas for an October 8th matchup against BYU, who finds itself ranked No. 21 in the Sports Illustrated preseason Top 25.

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"After consecutive double-digit-win seasons, the Cougars are on the verge of becoming an annual top-25 program again. Kalani Sitake’s team has 15 of its top 16 tacklers returning from a year ago, plus quarterback Jaren Hall and an experienced receiving corps. NFL scouts are intrigued by Hall, a good athlete with a quick release who still has to make strides in reading defenses." - Forde

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