When Notre Dame lost a heartbreaker to Florida State on Oct. 18, no one thought they were going to slide as far as they did. As the old BCS saying goes, it is better to lose early: meaning despite losing back in October, everyone expected them to build momentum at the end of the season, thus being in contention when talking about the first ever college playoffs.

Who would have expected them to lose their last four regular season games, making them 1-5 in their last six. One could make the argument that Everett Golson’s 14 turnovers in the last six games played a crucial part in their losses: his poor play, which is why they benched him against LSU, hindered an already exposed defense that at the end of the year ranked 85th in points against and 69th in total defense.

One could also make the argument that Notre Dame’s 6-0 start came from playing some truly poor teams: besides Stanford and Rice who were each 8-5, the other four have a combined 17-31 record. So was Notre Dame ever really good or simply hiding behind their extremely easy schedule?

At the same time, they did lose some close match-ups against Florida State, Arizona State, and Louisville, which all could have gone either way. But lets not forget their horrible loss to a 5-7 Northwestern and a blowout loss at the end of the season to USC.

Either way, Brian Kelly, who just finished his fifth season as the Notre Dame coach, has to be disappointed with their 8-5 record — 45-20 all-time. After being two years removed from the BCS championship, a four game losing streak to end the 2014 season cannot make fans, boosters or the organization happy. Was Kelly a one hit wonder or could he lead them back to glory: in the previous three years before he took the job, the team was 16-21, so he has thoroughly improved upon the debacle known as Charlie Weis.

Kelly is even 3-2 in bowl games, with the most recent win coming at the Music City Bowl against LSU: the 31-28 victory was a huge step forward for a struggling team and a huge win for Notre Dame over the SEC. Yes, LSU was in a similar poor season situation, but on paper — minus the passing game — LSU is the better team. And to have three top 250 recruits coming in 2015 — Blake Barnett (QB), Jerry Tillery (OT) and Tristen Hoge (OG) all committed — Notre Dame certainly looks good for the future. The only real question is will Brian Kelly learn from his mistakes and improve upon them or sink into oblivion like his predecessor?

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