You may notice the image I have selected for this piece—it is no coincidence. The 2009 football season for the Fighting Irish will only go as far as Jimmy Clausen will take it.
Perhaps the most heralded quarterback prospect to come out of high school football got in over his head when he arrived in South Bend via limousine. However, fans need to remember that at this point in his collegiate career – Brady Quinn was no first round pick either.
With that said, and the memory of a fabulous finish to last season’s otherwise disappointing record, Irish fans are lining up to claim a BCS bowl win. Some advice from Lee Corso may be appropriate for this topic…”Not so fast my friend!”
I’ll try to duplicate my 2008 Notre Dame football prediction perfection (see the Sporting News blog link in my profile) for the 2009 campaign. A look at the 2009 schedule for the Irish will paint a picture of where the Irish could find themselves in January…or December.
9/05/09 vs. Nevada - W
Notre Dame should handily defeat the Wolfpack at home…anything but could be an ominous indicator of things to come.
9/12/09 @ Michigan – W
This will be a bigger test than one might think for the Irish. Despite Michigan’s abysmal 2008 season, they remain well coached and poised for a turnaround within a few seasons. Their only question is how soon before they turn the corner, I am betting not just yet.
9/19/09 vs. Michigan State – L
Michigan State always gives the Irish fits. I think this game will be a field goal game either way. Just remember Golden Domers, I am an Irish fan as well.
9/26/09 @ Purdue - W
A few seasons ago and this would have been a tricky win. However, Purdue has lost it’s luster a bit and Notre Dame’s passing defense should be improved.
10/03/09 vs. Washington - W
A loss here and NBC is permanently blocked from my TV (sorry Conan). I will say this, Notre Dame lost to Syracuse in 2008. Interesting footnote—NBC will try to guilt uninterested fans into watching this by overloading us with the fact that Joe Montana’s son is set to play quarterback for the Huskies.
10/17/09 vs. USC - L
Notre Dame may well be on the other end of what they do to Washington two weeks earlier. I put down a loss on the schedule, but the Irish have a chance to fight in South Bend.
Couple of quick notes, USC has won seven in a row against ND and USC will win a national title at some point with Matt Barkley under center. NY Jet fans and Weis both love the fact Sanchez left as a junior.
10/24/09 vs. Boston College – W
If this took place on the road, it would be a one touchdown game—but Notre Dame hosts its third home game in a row (next time visiting an opposing school is November 14).
10/31/09 vs. Washington State – W
Another team traveling great lengths from Washington to get embarrassed on national TV, this time on prime time TV (7:30 ET) in San Antonio, Texas.
Remember that college schedules are made years in advance, Notre Dame was not aware they’d have both Washington teams coming in with one win (not counting the classic WSU/UW showdown) between them from 2008.
11/07/09 vs. Navy – W
Typically played at a neutral site, Notre Dame has them coming into town. Another Navy/ND game…another loss for the Midshipmen. Of course the “streak meant nothing”—right coach Weis?
Maybe tradition means nothing for the dispassionate NFL fans, but it certainly means everything in college football. I digress, the full diatribe against Weis can be found on my Sporting News blog.
11/14/09 @ Pittsburgh – W
Pitt will look dramatically different without McCoy in the backfield. Enough speed on defense will make Irish eyes smile.
11/21/09 vs. Connecticut – W
A win only because it is at home, and RB Donald Brown's departure. Connecticut’s coach, Randy Edsall, can out coach Weis any day of the week.
11/28/09 @ Stanford – W
A chance for a down game if UConn comes into South Bend hot and that game is hyped. Yet, I’d like to think a coach with Charlie’s salary could avoid a debacle against Stanford.
Well, I surprised even myself in granting the Irish a 10-2 record for 2009. I even cheated and gave Notre Dame their annual loss to someone they should beat (MSU). Why am I such a pessimist and still gave Weis 10 wins you ask? They play teams with a combined 2008 record of 71-70 where Navy, MSU, Pitt, and BC (hardly superpowers) make up 35 of the wins.
Let’s be honest, Notre Dame will get into a BCS Bowl with this schedule—but not because they are 10-2 and a legitimate contender.
They’ll get picked over a good SEC team (perhaps an Ole Miss) or Big Ten contender (sorry PSU) because they will generate TV revenue. College football is a business, and anyone who thinks otherwise also believes that baseball players who juice are the minority (they’re the majority people!) and boxing matches don’t get fixed.
That leads us to a plausible BCS bid to the Fiesta Bowl, and an OSU-sized dismantling at the hands of a school that played teams at their house on the roofs of conferences, not the basement. But hey, there is still the bowl win at Hawaii to mark as the defining moment of this regime’s recruiting classes.