Notre Dame Football: Game-by-Game Breakdown of the 2012 Schedule
We ask this question every year, but when in the world will Notre Dame get its act together and become the national powerhouse it was several years ago?
Head coach Brian Kelly is bringing in an extremely talented team, but in his first two seasons, he has finished with subpar 8-5 records.
Entering his third season, many are wondering if this will possibly be the year the Irish finally improve on those records and make a respectable bowl game. There's no question the talent is there for it to get done.
Last year's football season may have just ended, but it's never too early to make predictions.
Here are predictions for Notre Dame's schedule next year.
Vs. Navy, Sept. 1
Navy and that ridiculous running game can become extremely difficult to defend at times.
However, Notre Dame did a great job at slowing it down last year, and despite the questions on the defensive side of the ball, it should be able to win this game fairly easily once again.
Navy simply doesn't have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Irish in this one.
Notre Dame wins: 28-14.
Vs. Purdue, Sept. 8
Purdue actually has the ability to surprise people this season, as it's returning the majority of its starters on both sides of the ball.
The problem is that I'm not too sure the Boilermakers have enough playmakers to actually pull the upset off.
They'll keep things close with their solid running game, but a one-dimensional offense won't be enough to finish the job. I'm going with the home team on this one.
Notre Dame wins: 32-17.
At Michigan State, Sept. 15
Michigan State had a great season last year and has a fantastic defense returning majority of its starters. But how in the world will it be able to score points?
The Spartans are missing tons of their key players from a year ago. Their starting quarterback is gone, and their top four receivers from a year ago have all graduated.
It should be a well-fought game, especially with the Spartans at home, but I have to go with a team that isn't rebuilding completely on the offensive side of the ball.
Notre Dame wins: 24-21.
Vs. Michigan, Sept. 22
Michigan was able to squeeze out a victory last year against the Irish in what was one of the best games of the year.
I think they'll be able to do the same this year, mainly because Notre Dame has several questions on the defensive side of the ball and at quarterback.
This should be another tight game, but Michigan has fewer questions than the Irish do. Until we get a few answers on how Notre Dame will respond, I'm going with the Wolverines.
Michigan wins: 32-28.
Vs. Miami (in Chicago), Oct. 6
This is a game that must be circled on every college football fan's schedule.
There's a lot of great history between these two teams and with this game being played at Solider Field, you can expect another fantastic game.
Much for the same reasons I picked the Irish to beat the Spartans, I'm picking the Irish to beat the Hurricanes as well. Miami is only returning four starters on offense from last year.
The Canes lost their starting quarterback, their top receivers and their NFL-prospect running back in Lamar Miller.
Notre Dame wins: 28-21.
Vs. Stanford, Oct. 13
This game will really show just how good Stanford is, and although the Cardinal recruited extremely well, they did lose quarterback Andrew Luck.
Bringing in a first-year quarterback is never an easy thing to do, especially with a revamped offensive line.
I think Stanford will be just fine moving forward—I just believe that the Irish are more of a complete team at this point and should earn another well-fought victory.
Notre Dame wins: 27-14.
Vs. BYU, Oct. 20
The last time these two teams met back in 2005, Notre Dame creamed the Cougars. I don't think that's going to happen this season.
BYU is returning 16 starters, including nine on an offense that was one of the most balanced in the country last year.
This team is no pushover, and seven players from a defense that was ranked 22nd in the country a year ago are coming back as well.
This could be a big year for the Cougars, and I think it starts with a win over Notre Dame.
BYU wins: 28-21.
At Oklahoma, Oct. 27
Notre Dame has won the last six meetings against the Sooners, but I expect that streak to come to an end this year.
Oklahoma is just too talented of a team and is returning the majority of its starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Landry Jones.
This team has nothing but national championship on its mind after suffering a few horrible losses last year.
Notre Dame will put up a fight, but I'm not sure they're as physical or talented as Notre Dame is right now.
Oklahoma wins: 35-24.
Vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 3
This is where the Irish get back on track as they will take it to the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Don't get me wrong; the Panthers do have talent, especially at running back in Ray Graham. But they're returning eight starters from an offense that only averaged 24 points a game last season.
Things could get interesting if the Panthers' running game picks up but don't expect the Irish to lose three consecutive games.
Notre Dame wins: 34-21.
At Boston College, Nov. 10
Boston College is an absolute mess right now, and it would be a huge disappointment if Notre Dame was to lose to them.
Sure, the majority of its starters are returning from a season ago, but I'm not sure that's a good thing when the Eagles finished 4-8 last year.
Notre Dame wins: 32-17.
Vs. Wake Forest, Nov. 17
Wake Forest was a surprise team last year, until it lost six of its last eight games. Now you remove eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, including its leading rusher, and the Demon Deacons are in trouble heading into next year.
Notre Dame beat this team last year in Wake Forest when it was on a roll; it should be no problem with this game taking place in South Bend.
Notre Dame wins: 28-14.
At USC, Nov. 24
This game does not look good for Notre Dame at all.
The Trojans are absolutely loaded on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball and may be unstoppable next year.
Matt Barkley returned just to win a national championship and has tons of weapons to help get him there. This game will really probably expose the holes the Irish have on the defensive side of the ball.
With it being a rivalry game, expect the Irish to put up a fight, but I just don't see Notre Dame having enough firepower to keep up—especially with the game taking place at home for the Trojans.
USC wins: 38-21.
Randy Chambers is a B/R featured columnist who covers college football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or Randy.Chambers7@yahoo.com.