Notre Dame is not the football program that it wants you to think it is. Yes, it does have tradition, but these days the Irish haven’t lived up to their name in a long time. With the continuous coaching rotisserie to the uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Irish, with five Top 25 ranked opponents, will be shut out of another BCS bowl game this season.
In each of his first two seasons at the helm of the Irish, Brian Kelly was 8-5, which is hardly a comparable record to the college football elite. Kelly’s predecessor was Charlie Weis, who went 35-27 from 2005-2009. Tyrone Willingham, prior to Weis, went 21-15 in his three seasons. The lack of success in South Bend over the last 10 years puts a lot of pressure on Kelly and his squad this year to turn it around.
Another key problem facing the Irish this season is incumbent quarterback Tommy Rees. Rees was suspended, along with linebacker Carlo Calabrese, for the opener against Navy in Dublin, Ireland following their arrest in July. That leaves a question mark at QB between Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel. Notre Dame should overcome this issue, and Rees will be back under center by Week 2.
Coaching and quarterback controversies aside, the main reason that the Irish will not make another BCS bowl this season is their tumultuous schedule. Notre Dame faces No. 3 USC, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 8 Michigan, No.13 Michigan State and No. 18 Stanford.
The Irish have lost nine of their last 10 meetings against the Trojans, and with USC’s potential to contend for a national title, chalk one up for Lane Kiffin’s team. The Irish also haven’t fared well against the Wolverines and dropped five of the last six meetings. Michigan leads the all-time series 23-15-1.
In the last four years, Notre Dame has split victories with Michigan State, so this is a toss-up. The Irish have lost their last three contests to Stanford, but the Cardinal are without Andrew Luck and the edge has to go to Notre Dame. Lastly, facing No. 4 Oklahoma in Norman does not bode well for the visiting team. The Sooners had their 39-game home winning streak snapped just last season to Texas Tech.
At best, the Irish might figure to win two of those five games, leaving them with at least three losses on the season. Any other slip-ups will surely cost Notre Dame a BCS bid, and even at three losses, those hopes are minuscule to say the least. Furthermore, Kelly will definitely have to field ‘hot-seat’ questions from the media if his team does not fare better this season.