For the past few years, Notre Dame always seems to sneak into the AP polls at the beginning of the season but exit the top 25 within the first four weeks. Things are certainly looking differently this year.
The Fighting Irish visited a top ten Michigan State team but to the surprise of many, pulled out a huge and dominant win in East Lansing. They were the better team in each phase of the game and seemed completely in control of the game. Kelly has found a solid QB for his system in Golson and their defense finally looks like they're really flying to the ball. This was a major matchup for the Irish and the fact that they could handle a good MSU team really sets them up for the next few games.
You can tell with each victory that ND is becoming more and more confident and although I don't see them rolling through their next few opponents, I do expect them to handle them.
Will Notre Dame Run the Table in 2012?
Historically, Kelly has always had his most success in his third year at a program and you can tell this team is turning the corner as I type. Their defense looks light years better than it has in year's past being led by All-American LB, Manti Te'o who has played lights out this year. On the offensive side of the ball, it seems as if the Irish are really starting to settle in and understand the system Kelly brought with him from Cincinnati.
Notre Dame's next four games are against Michigan, Miami, Stanford, and BYU. With the exception of the Miami game, which will be held in Chicago, all these games will be hosted by Notre Dame, which can't be overlooked.
Next week's matchup against Michigan should be interesting, but I see Te'o and company corralling Robinson enough to come out with a win. ND shouldn't have much trouble with Miami the following week and despite Stanford's big win tonight, I'm still not completely sold on them and expect the Irish to take care of them at home.
That just leaves them with BYU who has looked solid thus far but definitely has their own weaknesses. It may seem like a stretch to some, but the more I break it down the more realistic it seems. If ND can manage to pull this off, the Oklahoma game will be one of the most anticipated games of the year.
One thing is for certain though, this isn't the same ND team we've seen in the past few years and Irish fans should be thrilled with their team's progress thus far.