ESPN has released its preseason power poll and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the network's Top 10. The ESPN staff ranked Notre Dame as the nation's No. 9 program heading into the 2021 campaign.
Here's what ESPN had to say about why it ranked the Irish in the Top 10.
"The Irish beat Clemson in the regular season and made it to the College Football Playoff last season, but there is a lot of production to replace from last year's team. Quarterback Ian Book is gone, the offensive line will have new faces across the board and head coach Brian Kelly has a new defensive coordinator in Marcus Freeman. The staff brought in Wisconsin quarterback transfer Jack Coan, who has a shot at starting for Notre Dame this season while battling with Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner. Having tight end Michael Mayer as a big target will help whoever wins that battle, but there are some big holes to fill. On defense, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is gone, but the unit does bring back star safety Kyle Hamilton. How the new faces step into key roles and help early on will be the story of what this Notre Dame team looks like this season." - Tom VanHaaren
Notre Dame finished the 2020 season with a 10-2 record after making the program's second College Football Playoff appearance in three seasons.
The highest ranked Notre Dame opponent is North Carolina, who checked in at No. 10 in the rankings, just one spot behind the Irish. Right behind the Tar Heels is Cincinnati, who ranked No. 11 in the ESPN Power Rankings. USC checked in at No. 13 and Wisconsin ranks No. 16 in the rankings.
Here is the ESPN Top 10:
5. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State
9. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
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