Notre Dame Football: Undefeated Irish Still Have Much to Prove to Be Elite

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kicker Kyle Brindza #27 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with teammates after his fourth quarter, 39 yard field goal against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The sun is shining brightly over Notre Dame Stadium right now. The Fighting Irish are 4-0 for the first time in a decade, ranked in the AP Top 10 and coming off emotional wins against Michigan State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. 

A lot of words that have been foreign to South Bend for a long time are being thrown around to describe this Notre Dame team.

After Week 3 against Michigan State, Tim Rohan of The New York Times used "elite" to describe where the Fighting Irish were headed.

But Rohan was also quick to point out that there is still much work to be done, and that is something fans and analysts have to keep in mind when looking at Notre Dame right now. A 4-0 record is great, but it doesn't tell the whole story. 

Florida State is 4-0 with three victories over Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest. Not all wins are created equal. 

Notre Dame's resume looks better than Florida State's, though just how much is up for debate. The Irish took care of business against Navy in the season opener, held on to defeat Purdue and then came the destruction of the state of Michigan. 

But, this is a deeply flawed team, mainly on offense. That will have a lot to prove in the coming weeks as the schedule gets tougher. 

Michigan State and Michigan are not exactly offensive juggernauts. The Spartans boast one of the best running backs in the country, Le'Veon Bell, and he was held to just 77 yards against Notre Dame. Yet, their passing offense under Andrew Maxwell is rather pedestrian. . 

Denard Robinson has electrifying athleticism, but he can't throw the ball down the field, and his performance in South Bend was absolutely horrendous. Notre Dame deserves credit for exploiting those weaknesses, yet I am still waiting for Brian Kelly's squad to be tested against a complete team. 

I want to see what Tommy Rees and/or Everett Golson are going to do when they have to lead the offense down the field to get a score. I want to see if this ferocious-looking defense is legitimate or if it is a product of playing mediocre competition. 

The good news is we won't have to wonder what this particular Notre Dame team is made of by the time the season ends. After a bye this week, the Irish will take on a good Miami offense on a neutral field in Chicago, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC. 

That remaining schedule is going to tell us a lot more about where Kelly has Notre Dame at right now. Certainly, we will know a lot more at the end of October than we do at the end of September. 

The Fighting Irish appear to be headed in the right direction, but we have been fooled many times before. Instead of overhyping the Irish based on one month against what looks to be lackluster competition, it is best to play things safe, so we don't look foolish at the end of the season.