Notre Dame Football: Irish's Fast Start Product of Weak Opening Schedule

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 15:  Cierre Wood #20 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with John Goodman #81 after Goodmans first quarter touchdown catch while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 15, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Before Notre Dame fans start dreaming of a BCS National Championship this fall, they need be reminded of the Fighting Irish's lackluster opening schedule.

Notre Dame has maneuvered it well without a doubt, winning three straight to start the year. However, the opposition has been overrated and over-matched to say the least.

The Irish destroyed Navy by 40 points in Dublin, Ireland to open the season. The Midshipmen are 0-2 this season, though, and have been outscored 84-17 in their two losses.

We'll call that a less-than-telling victory.

Two weeks ago, the Irish hosted Purdue in South Bend in what has been Notre Dame's toughest matchup so far. The Boilermakers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to force the Irish to put together a game-winning drive just to survive by three points at home.

The Irish looked far from dominant in that win.

Purdue's only two wins thus far in 2012 have come against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan. It's just too bad this team wasn't playing Eastern Notre Dame in Week 2.

Most recently, the Fighting Irish throttled No. 10 Michigan State on the road this past weekend.

On the surface, it looks like a statement win for Notre Dame, but it was nothing more than an impressive showing on the road.

The Spartans were extremely overrated coming into this season. The departure of Kirk Cousins was underrated and far too much responsibility was placed on the shoulders of running back Le'Veon Bell.

Michigan State was 2-0 coming into Saturday night's matchup. However, the team needed a late touchdown to beat Boise State at home in Week 1 and only had to overcome Central Michigan in Week 2. The Chippewas only beat Southeast Missouri State by 11 points a week earlier. 

The real test for Notre Dame will come in Week 4 when it hosts Michigan. The Wolverines have won three straight over the Fighting Irish and boast an explosive offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate Denard Robinson.

If the Irish can knock off Michigan convincingly this coming weekend, perhaps those September dreams of BCS glory for Notre Dame fans are, in fact, appropriate. 

For now, just remember that the Irish's hot start to 2012 is the product of a weak opening schedule this fall and nothing more.


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