The Football Power Index (FPI) has been one of the most controversial metrics used by ESPN in their college football coverage over the past few years, largely thanks to the metric’s exact background not being fully known.
Nevertheless, ESPN has already released the metric’s preseason projections for the 2018 season, and perhaps one of the biggest surprises has to be in the Top 5, where Ohio State and Notre Dame are in a dead heat for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots.
Notre Dame being up in the Top 25 here shouldn’t be a huge surprise; the Fighting Irish were 10-3 in the 2017 season, and they finished the season strong with a win over LSU in the Citrus Bowl.
Here is the ESPN explanation is here:
Notre Dame spiced up the playoff conversation for part of last season before tailing off at the end. Expect the Irish to at least be a tough out this year, with FPI rating them the fifth-best team in preseason.
Notre Dame’s rating is mostly about its overall level of play from last season, when the school finished eighth in overall efficiency (which is essentially expected points added per play, adjusted for opponent and down-weighted for garbage time) despite losing two of its final three games of the regular season. It also returns 10 starters from the 10th-most efficient defense in the FBS and has had solid recruiting over the past four seasons.
However, Notre Dame will have to make up a lot on offense, as they lose 1,400-yard rusher Josh Adams and top wideout Equanimeous St. Brown to the NFL. While Brian Kelly has recruited well at the school, he has not had back-to-back 10 wins seasons (vacated or not) with Notre Dame. While the assessment is correct in that the defense should be strong, expecting Notre Dame to be within one FPI point of Alabama and Georgia is definitely the bold prediction for the metric for this upcoming season.
For ESPN’s full preseason FPI, you can go here.