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2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team
|The 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team will represent the University of Notre Dame in the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team will be coached by Brian Kelly, who is in his 9th season at Notre Dame, and will play its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The Fighting Irish will compete as an independent.|
The 2017 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team finished 10–3, culminating the season with a 21–17 victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Notre Dame began the season with a 49–16 thrashing of Temple before a highly anticipated showdown with Georgia in South Bend, with the Bulldogs winning 20–19 in their first trip north of the Mason-Dixon line since 1965. Following the 1–1 start, the Irish reeled off seven consecutive wins—including a 49–14 annihilation of arch-rival USC—that earned Brian Kelly's program a #3 ranking in the initial 2017 College Football Playoff rankings. However, the luck of the Irish ran out, as the team found itself on the losing end of a 41–8 humiliation against the Miami Hurricanes in a prime-time game at Hard Stock Stadium. Notre Dame then eked out a 24–17 victory against Navy on senior day before ending the regular season with a thud, losing 38–20 at Stanford.
The disheartening finish in the latter stages of the season was only compounded by defensive coordinator Mike Elko being lured to Texas A&M by first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher three days following the Citrus Bowl victory over LSU. However, rather than make an outside hire to replace Elko, Brian Kelly chose to stay in-house, elevating linebackers coach Clark Lea to defensive coordinator.
One week following Elko's departure, the Irish would suffer another significant coaching loss, as Harry Hiestand accepted the offensive line coach position on Matt Nagy's staff with the Chicago Bears. In a surprise decision and after a national search, head coach Brian Kelly chose to promote senior offensive analyst Jeff Quinn to replace Hiestand.
The unexpected personnel loss within the program eventually spread to the roster, as running backs C.J. Holmes and Deon McIntosh, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and defensive lineman Brandon Tiassum were each dismissed from the program. Holmes and Stepherson were dismissed due to shoplifting charges, while McIntosh and Tiassum were booted for a violation of team rules.
However, the tide began to shift in a positive direction for the program beginning on January 30, when Notre Dame announced the hiring of Terry Joseph as safeties coach to fortify defensive coordinator Clark Lea's staff.
The good news was compounded a week later, as Notre Dame closed out National Signing Day with the nation's 10th-ranked recruiting class, per 247sports.com.