For the first time in a while Notre Dame has high hopes for their football season. Some expect 11 wins and BCS bowl berth. WHOA WHOA WHOA! Lets take a back a bit, they did lose to Syracuse last year. Here is a game by game assessment of what will happen this year for the Irish.
Game 1: Nevada
Oh, this look winnable, Nevada is in the WAC. Wrong. Nevada has a very good offense and returns Colin Kaepernick who is a Offensive MVP for the WAC possibility. He can beat Notre Dame with both his legs and his arm. If his improvement continues he will throw for roughly 3,500 yards and rush for another 1,000. He could join the Vince Young and Dan Lefevour club.
Nevada was fifth in total offense which should be a good test of Notre Dame's defense. If Notre Dame's offense is SO good then they should be able to run all over Nevada as they were 91st last season. Although Nevada's pass defense was last, they had the number six pass rush defense. Golden Tate and Co. should have a big day.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38 Nevada 34
Game 2: AT Michigan
Notre Dame goes to the "Big House" for game number two. With the recent news about practicing too long I believe this means that Rodriguez has lost the team. They have a QB that fits the system (Tate Forcier), but is a freshman so he won't get all the snaps. Michigan's defense should be more solid than last year (67th in the nation).
Senior running back Brandon Minor will test Notre Dame in the rushing attack and Michigan has a plethera of wide receivers at their disposal. If Rodriguez can figure out the QB situation and get their rotation set then it should be a good game.
Prediction: Notre Dame 24 Michigan 14
This is where it gets tough Irish fans.
Game 3: Michigan State
Oh, how the Irish have struggled against Michigan State. Even playing in South Bend in front of Touchdown Jesus hasn't saved them. This will be the best team Notre Dame will have faced to this point. Michigan State doesn't have any standout talent, but they have a good scheme with good coaches.
Michigan State has a solid defense (41st in scoring D last year) and return plenty of starters. Especially in the secondary. This will give Tate, Jimmy Clausen, and Co. some trouble. The offense isn't talented but steady and should put up enough yards to compete. They were 49th in turnover margin so they don't turn the ball over. On the flip side, Notre Dame was 73 with more TO's than against.
Also, Notre Dame was, to say the least, overmatched last year against MSU and MSU's team isn't much different.
Prediction: Michigan State 28 Notre Dame 13
Game 4: At Purdue
Purdue is the worst team the Irish will face to this point in the season. They have a new coach and don't have as much talent as years past. Purdue is especially weak at the QB position because of departure of their scheduled starter due to academic reasons. They have strength at the running back position with three up and coming prospects.
Purdue was 61st and 48th in defense and offense last year and should be worse in those categories this year. This game should be a lock for Notre Dame.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Purdue 13
Game 5: Washington
Washington was just plain terrible last year, and they do not have enough talent to keep up with Notre Dame. Especially since this game is not in Seattle. They do have QB Jake Locker, but to make an 0-12 season better, I just don't see Washington able to compete. But, as I mentioned earlier, Notre Dame DID lose to SYRACUSE.
Prediction: Notre Dame 21 Washington 14
The final stretch is brutal
Game 6: USC
The holy grail of the season. If Notre Dame can win this game, it will make the season. Well you better look else where, the Irish aren't winning this one. Despite the fact I do think USC is overrated (freshman QB, replacing three linebackers), they have MUCH MUCH MUCH more talent than Notre Dame.
At running back USC is stacked, we know this. Notre Dame hasn't been close to beating USC in the last two years, (ever since the Bush Push). Their rushing defense is 45th, and should be better, but won't be able to contain the monster. They don't force turnovers and Barkley will have played OSU by then.
With this being said, Notre Dame will get dominated, again. Maybe not 38-3 but something similar.
Prediction: Notre Dame 7 USC 31
Game 7: Boston College
Notre Dame did lose this game last year, and Boston College didn't lose much and wasn't that talented last year. A good defense seems to stop them every time. Boston College returns most of its starts on D. Even though QB will have a new starting QB and they aren't sure who its going to be yet, they have a talented O-Line that should be able to protect him.
Last year the Eagles were FIFTH, one two three four FIFTH, in total defense. While they might not be that good, it will be enough to stop the Irish's offense. Last year it was 17-0 and the Irish were dominated from start to finish. It should be closer this year, but I don't think the Irish can overcome BC's great defense.
Prediction: Notre Dame 7 Boston College 13
Game 8: Washington State
This game should be as challenging as Washington vs Washington State. Washington State won a THRILLER in the Apple Cup with a 13-10 victory over rival Washington with a last second field goal. Again, Wazzu doesn't have enough talent to keep up with the Irish, no matter where the game was at.
Prediction: Notre Dame 30 Washington State 6
Game 9: Navy
A game that Notre Dame probably should have lost last year should bring another thriller this year. Navy brings back a great defense with eight starters which should give Notre Dame problems. Also they have a great junior QB Ricky Dobbs who is supposed to be really great.
Despite all of this I don't think Navy has enough talent to keep up. They don't turn the ball over much though, and I think that will keep them in it.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27 Navy 17
Game 10: AT Pittsburgh
Last season it was a 4 OT thriller which Notre Dame lost, and played quite well in to be honest. Without talented running back Leshean McCoy the Panthers will have to find a way with their defense and lack of turnovers to win games this year. They have some true freshman at skilled positions and a good o-line to cancel some of this out.
Pitt was 27th in total defense. This does not bode well for Notre Dame, as I have stated they have yet to really play well against a good defense. A young team will turn the ball over which could get Pitt in trouble, but I believe their defense will shut down the Irish more so this year. Also playing at Pitt won't help.
Prediction: Notre Dame 14 Pittsburgh 20
Game 11: Connecticut
Connecticut lost perhaps the best player in their young history in Donald Brown who was a beast at the running back position. UCONN was sixth last year in total defense and will be relying on it again to shut down Notre Dame. Their defense is also VERY good against the pass so Notre Dame will have to rely on their running game to produce.
This game is a toss up, I think UConn will win, but it wouldn't surprise me if they lost. So don't get your pannies in wad over this one.
Prediction: Connecticut 10 Notre Dame 6
Game 12: AT Stanford
Stanford is no push over despite their lack of recent success. Like Notre Dame they are young and could be coming into their own. This game could have bowl implications for both teams. Stanford has gotten some great recruits but most likely does not have the talent to keep up with Notre Dame.
Another red flag for me in this game for Stanford is their defense (75th last year). Also a young QB could lead to turnovers and provide the Irish with favorable field position. Despite how bad Stanford was last year the Irish only won by seven.
Prediction: Notre Dame 30 Stanford 16
Thats a 7-5 record, 8-4 at best. In a year where Notre Dame plays a ridiculous four road games. They should join a real conference so this can't happen. But thats a whole other debate. Even if they win 10, its because of this SOFT soft SOFT schedule.
Now let me hear it Notre Dame fans, Ill be happy to any questions, comments, concerns.