While Notre Dame features multiple first-round talents, their brutal schedule ensures that their championship ambitions are still a few years away.
As good as the Fighting Irish defense is, the offense is just decent. Everett Golson is promising, but he struggled down the stretch against Purdue. Tommy Rees, not Golston, led the Irish down the field for their game-winning field goal.
Meanwhile, the Irish lack a dominant player to take the top off a defense. The running game has been very good, but no Irish receiver has stepped forward as a truly dynamic threat.
While the Irish are very good in almost every facet, they simply lack the explosion to deal with their brutal schedule. The Irish have to play Michigan State on the road tonight, which will definitely be a tough task. Down the road, the Irish will have to play five other ranked teams: Michigan, Stanford, Brigham Young, Oklahoma and USC.
That makes six total ranked opponents for the Irish, as well as three top-10 opponents. There is no way that Notre Dame can beat all of these stellar opponents, meaning the Irish will be watching the BCS bowls from home this season.
Not all is lost for the Irish, though, as they have two players who should generate serious discussion for some individual awards.
The offensive star of this team is Tyler Eifert, who makes spectacular catches look easy. Eifert is the most talented tight end in the nation, with massive size and elite athletic ability.
Eifert was dominant against Purdue until he left the game with a concussion. How he heals will be key for the Irish, who need Eifert to move the ball efficiently.
As long as Eifert is health, he should be a serious contender for the John Mackey Award, which is awarded to the country's best tight end. Regardless, Eifert is a surefire early-round draft pick.
Perhaps no player on the Irish is more physically imposing than Manti Te'o, who looks like a man among boys every time he's on the field.
Te'o will be playing through a lot of grief this week, as both his girlfriend and grandmother passed away in the past week according to a USA Today report.
Despite these heartbreaking losses for Te'o, his future remains bright on the football field. Te'o is a contender for multiple awards, including the Butkus award, given to the nation's best linebacker, and the Chuck Bednarik award, given to the nation's best defensive player.
Te'o would truly be deserving of both of these honors. He's a beast and a leader who will take his vast talent to the NFL next year as a probably first-round pick.
All in all, Notre Dame has individual talent that rivals the best teams in the country, but they are still a few top recruiting classes away from being a top-10 team.
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