How Many Games Would Notre Dame Win Playing Alabama's 2013 Schedule?

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMarch 25, 2013

How Many Games Would Notre Dame Win Playing Alabama's 2013 Schedule?

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    Notre Dame fans will tell you that they have the toughest schedule in all of college football, while SEC homers will tell you that the schedule isn't as difficult as playing as a member in the toughest conference.

    Well, in hopes to settle some of the debates, what if the Irish were to play the schedule of the Alabama Crimson Tide? We already tried this with Alabama playing the Notre Dame schedule and quickly realized that the Tide would be able to hold their own as usual.

    The concept is real easy. Notre Dame makes all of the road trips that Alabama would have made during the 2013 season, while the opponents will pack their bags for Notre Dame Stadium instead of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    Will Notre Dame be able to prove all of the SEC lovers wrong and earn its way into another BCS bowl?

    The outcome may be a little different than you expected.

Vs. Virginia Tech (In Atlanta, GA)

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    How the Irish Win

    Notre Dame may have a hard time against a tough Hokies defense that returns nine starters. So the Irish win this game pressuring the quarterback and forcing Logan Thomas into mistakes. With a defensive front that should remain stout, making life difficult for the senior quarterback should be enough to lead the team to victory.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    The same way Notre Dame takes care of business. With Virginia Tech not being the most consistent team on the offensive side of the ball, it would be forced to rely on getting to quarterback Everett Golson and creating a few turnovers. The Irish signal-caller is still a young player that is trying to figure things out and pressure will rattle him in the first game of the new season.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 24-14 (The Irish seem to be the more complete team at this very moment)

     

    Record: 1-0

At Texas A&M

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    How the Irish Win

    How is any team going to beat Texas A&M this season? It truly starts and ends with Johnny Manziel. If the Irish can become the first defense to keep this guy in check, they win. If the reigning Heisman Trophy winner goes off and puts up five touchdowns and 400-plus yards, give the victory to the Aggies. Manziel is a game-changer if college football has ever seen one and the outcome of this matchup will determine how well he plays.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    See above.

     

    Prediction

    Texas A&M 31-24 (Until somebody figures out how to stop Manziel, it is hard to pick against Texas A&M. The issues with the Aggies defense scares me, but like we all saw last year, Johnny Football is enough to get the job done)

     

    Record: 1-1

Vs. Colorado State

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    How the Irish Win

    We saw last season just how much this team can struggle against teams that aren't nearly as talented. But Notre Dame won more games last season than Colorado State has won in the last three years combined. All it truly takes in this game is a complete half of Notre Dame football and the Rams will be put to bed.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Do absolutely everything right, which includes winning the turnover battle, playing great defense and finding a way to score three touchdowns offensively. May sound like a bit much, but it would really take the best performance from this program we have seen in five years or so.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 35-17 (Even with last year replaying in the back of my mind, Notre Dame gets it done rather easily)

     

    Record: 2-1

Vs. Ole Miss

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    How the Irish Win

    SEC games are won in the trenches and the defensive line of Notre Dame must step up in this one. Ole Miss allowed 34 sacks last year, which was good for 11th in the SEC. The good news for the Rebels is that four starters from the offensive line return, but the Irish defensive line is easily one of the best in college football. Come away with three or more sacks and the Irish keep rolling.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Besides the offensive line being challenged, quarterback Bo Wallace needs to keep the Notre Dame defense on its heels. Capable of being a threat in the running department as well, Wallace needs to make plays, as well as take care of the football. This would be a game that could put the junior signal-caller on the map.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 28-17 (It wouldn't be surprising to see a young and energetic Ole Miss team pull off the upset, but you have to go with the better overall team right now. Irish win in a highly competitive matchup)

     

    Record: 3-1

Vs. Georgia State

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    How the Irish Win

    Just show up, toss the pigskin around for a while and watch the scoreboard quickly change in your favor. There isn't much of a game plan needed to walk away with the victory in this ball game.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    If the Panthers starters are somehow able to steal powers from a much more talented team, kind of how things went down in the movie Space Jam. Other than that, there is really no hope.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 45-7 (I don't think this needs much of an explanation)

     

    Record: 4-1

At Kentucky

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    How the Irish Win

    Notre Dame only needs to avoid the letdown that almost cost this team so many times last year. You know your backups are probably more talented than the opposing team’s starters, just go out there and get the job done. There isn't much that needs to be said but go out there and handle business for 60 minutes.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    If the Kentucky athletic department is somehow able to change this meeting into a basketball matchup. But even then, Notre Dame made the NCAA Tournament, while the Wildcats did not. To make things a little easier, there isn't much Kentucky can do to beat Notre Dame as long as everybody on the roster is healthy.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 35-10 (New coaching staff, too many question marks, Kentucky still has a ways to go)

     

    Record: 5-1

Vs. Arkansas

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    How the Irish Win

    Just don't turn the ball over. Once again, Notre Dame will be the overwhelming favorite in this matchup. Now it comes down to how long the underdog is going to remain in the game. Turnovers are the best friend of a team not expected to win and limiting those will result in another victory for the team in South Bend.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Ask the defense to hold Notre Dame to under 21 points, giving the offense somewhat of a chance to finish the job. With a gutted offense from a year ago, the Razorbacks defense is going to face a little pressure this season. This matchup will be no different.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 28-10 (While Arkansas is better than Kentucky, it does have similarities with a new coaching staff and tons of questions offensively)

     

    Record: 6-1

Vs. Tennessee

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    How the Irish Win

    Feed the running backs the football. Notre Dame is extremely deep at the running back position and the Volunteers allowed 188 rushing yards a game last season. Everett Golson can take a bye week in this matchup, as he will only be needed to hand the ball off. If the Irish can reach close to 200 rushing yards, there is yet another victory.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Hope that whoever wins the starting quarterback job can make enough plays to lead to a win. Tennessee does return eight starters defensively, but considering that unit was by far the worst in the SEC, I'm not sure that is a good thing. The offense needs to make miracles happen and keep this team in the game.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 31-17 (Another subpar SEC team with a new coaching staff. The Irish are hitting the jackpot with these types of teams being played back-to-back)

     

    Record: 7-1

Vs. LSU

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    How the Irish Win

    Notre Dame will beat LSU doing the things it wasn't able to do against Alabama. Find a way to slow down the Tigers running game and move the chains on the offensive side of the ball. The game plan will be the same as it was during last year’s national championship, Irish fans will just be hoping for a much different result.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    The LSU formula hasn't changed for quite some time. It wants to play remarkable defense and run the football until the opposing team throws in the towel. But with Notre Dame being a great run stopping defense, you figure Zach Mettenberger will have to make some plays with his arm for the Tigers to come out victorious.

     

    Prediction

    LSU 17-10 (I went back and forth with this prediction, but LSU is very similar to Alabama in the way it plays the game. Notre Dame would have to prove that it could handle that type of physicality before anybody should feel comfortable believing in this team again against elite SEC competition)

     

    Record: 7-2

At Mississippi State

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    How the Irish Win

    That Notre Dame defense must do a good job of slowing down running back LaDarius Perkins. Averaging five yards a carry last season and scoring 10 total touchdowns, he was the bread and butter of this offense. Forcing Mississippi State to go elsewhere for offensive production would be challenging for the coaching staff.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Find a way to get off to a fast start and get the crowd in the game. When given something to cheer about, Davis Wade Stadium can get just as crazy as the next stadium in college football, cowbells and all. The Bulldogs will be an underdog in this matchup, but with the crowd behind them, it would make things nerve wracking for a young Notre Dame quarterback. 

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 28-17 (It's hard to trust Mississippi State in big games. Tough atmosphere to play in but the Irish have at least shown they are capable of rising to the occasion in big matchups)

     

    Record: 8-2

Vs. Chattanooga

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    How the Irish Win

    Make it to Notre Dame Stadium without the zombie apocalypse taking place. As long as these two teams are able to play, the Irish couldn't lose this game if they wanted to.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    Chattanooga has already won with the nice paycheck it is going to receive heading out to South Bend. As far as winning on the football field, there is absolutely no chance of that happening.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 42-3 (Much like the game against Georgia State, this game won't take much for the Irish to win)

     

    Record: 9-2

At Auburn

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    How the Irish Win

    Attack that Auburn defense the same way Notre Dame was able to do against Oklahoma last season. Just run the ball right down its throat, while mixing in a few play-action passes and going for the kill with the deep ball. Among other things, the Tigers were horrible defensively and it will take much more than one season to turn all of that around.

     

    How the Opponent Wins

    If Gus Malzahn has figured out a way to turn the Tigers offense into a scoring machine by this point. We know it is only a matter of time before Auburn has the next great spread offense, but it is going to take some time. With this game being the last regular season matchup, if the offense is firing on all cylinders, Auburn will have a great chance to pull it off.

     

    Prediction

    Notre Dame 28-14 (Auburn will be better than it was a season ago, but that doesn't mean it is ready to compete with the big boys just yet)

     

    Record: 10-2

What We Learned

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    Water is wet and ice cream is still delicious.

    Besides that, Notre Dame switching schedules with Alabama doesn't prove much of anything. In fact, I think the Irish coaching staff, as well as the fans, would welcome playing this schedule next year. There is little doubt that the Crimson Tide has an easier schedule than Notre Dame does with the combination of FCS opponents and teams with new coaching staffs.

    If some of the better teams from the SEC East were included on this schedule things may be a little different, but of course they aren't.

    Whether you want to admit it or not, Notre Dame returns a better team than it was a year ago when it made it to the national championship with an undefeated record. With the respect given to the roster, it's fair to say that Notre Dame would struggle with the same opponents Alabama will this season, which are mainly Texas A&M and LSU.

    To see a second straight double-digit winning season under Brian Kelly and a trip to a BCS bowl would not be out of the question, and would likely be the end result if Notre Dame somehow managed to switch schedules with Alabama.