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Everything ESPN FPI ratings, projections say about Notre Dame football

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble06/03/24

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On Monday morning, ESPN released its Football Power Index (FPI) ratings and projections for the 2024 college football season. The algorithm, which rates each team on offense, defense and special teams relative to the average team, was very kind to Notre Dame.

Before diving into the details, here is how FPI works, as described by ESPN’s Neil Paine:

“The FPI is a power rating that tracks each team’s strength relative to an average FBS squad. Teams are rated on offense, defense and special teams, with the values representing points per game. (So that means Georgia is rated as nearly 27 points per game better than the average team, which is pretty good!)

“Those numbers are then used to simulate the season schedule 20,000 times, including the conference championships and the CFP bracket, simulating the selection process using an algorithm that mimics the way the committee typically picks teams. Finally, once we have those results, we can say how often each team wins its conference, makes the playoff and achieves other milestones.”

This is what FPI’s numbers — both the ratings and the projections — had to say about Notre Dame.

Notre Dame ranks No. 7 nationally in FPI rating

Notre Dame’s FPI clocks in at 19.0, which is the seventh-best in college football. Only Georgia (26.8), Oregon (24.5), Texas (22.9), Ohio State (22.2), Alabama (21.9) and Penn State (19.8) rank higher than the Irish, while Oklahoma (17.2), Tennessee (16.6) and Missouri (15.4) landed just below them.

Florida State is the highest-ranked team on Notre Dame’s schedule, coming in at No. 11 (15.1). Not far behind FSU are Texas A&M at No. 14 (13.6). USC at No. 18 (11.1) and Louisville at No. 21 round out the Irish opponents in the top 25 — or indeed, the top 50.

Notre Dame projected to finish 10.1-1.9, per FPI

That’s the fifth-best record projection in the nation, behind Oregon, Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State, respectively. Texas is the lone other school whom FPI has winning double-digit games.

Marcus Freeman has not won 10 regular-season games as Notre Dame’s head coach, going 8-4 in 2022 and 9-3 in 2023. The expectation in South Bend, in national circles and in ESPN’s FPI is that he reaches that benchmark in 2024.

FPI gives Irish fifth-best odds to make CFP

Notre Dame made the College Football Playoff in 59.1 percent of FPI’s simulations, making it one of seven teams (the other six being the ones ranked ahead of it in FPI) with greater than 50 percent odds to play meaningful postseason games.

Why are the Irish ranked slightly higher in playoff odds than FPI? Presumably, FPI believes Notre Dame has a weak schedule compared to the powerhouses of the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten. Its 2024 slate is top-heavy, and even the teams at the top have questions that need to be answered.

FPI gives Irish seventh-best odds to make, win national championship

Those odds are 10.0 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, and the Irish rank behind those same six teams in both categories. Georgia has by far the best chance to win it all at 21.0 percent, while Oregon, Texas and Ohio State all have greater than 10 percent odds to do the same.

No team below Notre Dame has greater than 6 percent odds to make the national championship or greater than 3 percent odds to win it. FPI has established four tiers of contenders in college football this season; these are the teams with 2 percent odds or higher to win the title:

  • Tier 1: Georgia
  • Tier 2: Oregon, Texas, Ohio State
  • Tier 3: Alabama, Penn State, Notre Dame
  • Tier 4: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida State, Missouri

Notre Dame has best odds to go undefeated, per FPI

In FPI’s 20,000 simulations, Notre Dame went 12-0 15.8 percent of the time. Oregon did so at a 15.7 percent rate, and after that, there’s a steep drop-off.

Georgia survived its regular season undefeated 10.8 percent of the time, followed by Ohio State at 7.5 percent, Penn State at 7.1 percent, Texas at 6.8 percent and James Madison at 3.9 percent. Strength of schedule was a major factor here, as some of the other teams with relatively high odds to go 12-0 are Kansas (2.6 percent), Liberty (2.6 percent) and Kansas State (1.9 percent).

The SEC is a gantlet in a way that Notre Dame’s schedule is not, although Oregon’s slate is difficult enough — the Ducks play Ohio State at home and Michigan and Wisconsin on the road — that its high odds to go undefeated should raise eyebrows.

Still, FPI has made its opinion on Notre Dame clear: The Irish are good enough to make the College Football Playoff and with their schedule, they absolutely should.

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