Matt Cashore /

Notre Dame opens No. 10 in AP Poll

Are the Irish better this year than last? According to the preseason AP Poll, yes. Notre Dame opened at No. 10 in the preseason rankings, its highest August slot in a decade.

Notre Dame will open this season with its highest preseason ranking in 10 years.

While that seemingly doesn’t match up with the roster’s turnover or this weekend’s arrests – those happened after the Associated Press conducted voting – the Irish won’t apologize for their first Top 10 preseason ranking by the AP since the second year of the Charlie Weis regime.

The Irish spread in the first AP Poll ranged from No. 2 (Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette-Mail) to No 16 (Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch). South Bend Tribune beat reporter Eric Hansen put the Irish at No. 9.  The polling includes 61 voters and the Irish were a unanimous selection.

The Irish were ranked No. 11 in the preseason by the AP last year with a roster that included Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day, KeiVarae Russell and Ronnie Stanley. Now they’re one slot higher despite returning single-digits starters, depending on how you tally that statistic.

Alabama opened at No. 1 and grabbed 33 first-place votes. Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and Michigan followed, in that order and each got at least one first-place vote. Next came No. 8 Stanford and No. 9 Tennessee before getting to Notre Dame.

Just three Irish opponents were ranked: Stanford, No. 12 Michigan State and No. 20 USC. All three are breaking in new quarterbacks with the Cardinal and Spartans set to come to South Bend.

Among the “Also Receiving Votes” portion, Miami was first in that group with Texas and Navy also getting mention. For all intents and purposes, that would put Miami at No. 26, Texas at No. 36 and Navy at No. 38.

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