​We have not seen Notre Dame in the CFP in awhile. In fact, they have not been to the National title game since they were beaten down by Alabama in 2013. 

But with a clean Citrus Bowl victory over LSU to end the season, the Fighting Irish are on the right track to get back to the spotlight. For such a storied program, the Irish have been under the radar in recent years, but with a little help, they could be poised to make a championship run this year.

According to the ESPN Football Power Index, the Irish are projected to come out with 10 wins and two losses despite a tough schedule. Notre Dame is set to take on Michigan in their season opener and later has teams like Navy, Northwestern, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and USC.

The key to the Irish this season? Their defense. it wins championships, as they say. The Irish have 10 defensive starters returning after ranking 10th in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency last season. Head coach Brian Kelly drastically improved the team from 2016-2017 turning a 4-8 team into a 10-3 team. If he can win two more games this year, he could find himself in ND's first contemporary college football playoff.

With the addition of Auburn graduate transfer, ​Keenan Sweeney, the Irish are looking to change things up on offense by bringing back the long retired fullback position to the program. With another year under his belt, QB ​Brandon Wimbush should take the helm at QB even though the Irish are deep at that position. A little change could be just what they need to make a run.

As the Irish are currently competing as an independent, they will not have the help of a conference title to boost them into the playoffs. Instead, they will have to rely on winning 11 or 12 games if they want to have any chance of being selected by the CFBP committee. 

Nonetheless if the Irish can dig deep, don't count them out to make a National Championship run this year.