The Brian Kelly Chapter Begins: What To Expect in Year One
The Brian Kelly chapter is about to unfold before our eyes in the saga that is Notre Dame Football.
Kelly is a proven winner everywhere he has been, and he looks to continue the trend of Notre Dame rookie coaches winning their openers.
Kelly is inheriting a rich and deep roster that has not lived up to expectations from the previous coaching regime.
Kelly and his expectations are sky high: BCS or bust. Coming off two consecutive trips to the BCS at Cincinnati, Kelly doesn't want to fall off the map at his new school.
Looking ahead to 2010, Kelly is bringing with him his spread offense, which should get installed quickly under Dayne Crist.
This truly might be one of the deepest offenses Notre Dame has had in my lifetime, with a deep (yet seemingly disappointing) running back corps that has not even tapped the potential and expectations they had coming into South Bend.
Look for that to change under Kelly; his spread offense should keep opposing defenses on their heels giving the backs more holes to burst through.
Overall, look for a high powered offense to lead the Irish as high hopes ride through the faithful of the Blue and Gold.
Purdue (Sept. 4)
Purdue is coming in with a lot of optimism and hope this season under Head Coach Danny Hope.
Transfer Robert Marve is at the helm of the offense and is being considered by some as the next member of the "Cradle of Quarterbacks" at Purdue.
The reason for this is simple, he has arguably the Big 10's best receiver lining up with him in Keith Smith.
Smith, who led the Big 10 in Receptions and Yards in 2009, with 90 for 1100 respectively, will be an crucial part of the Boilermaker offense in 2010 if they want to succeed.
The defense is anchored by First Team All-Big 10 selection Ryan Kerrigan, as well as an experienced linebacker corps.
Unfortunately for Purdue (insert my Purdue student bias here), star running back Ralph Bolden is out with an ACL injury.
Look for Purdue to struggle a bit with the transition of a new QB and running back as the Irish D exploits them.
A rapidly improving Dayne Crist should be able to move the offense well, given a solid play by the O-line.
Either way, I walk out a winner, but Notre Dame pulls out the Win 31-20.
Also, side note/bet... being week 1 of the season, over/under on Tim Tebow mentions is five per half.
Michigan (Sept. 11)
The talk in Ann Arbor is all on Rich Rod. After two completely disappointing seasons for the Maize and Blue, Michigan is wondering what direction their football team is going.
Long removed from their 2006 National Championship contention, Michigan is trying to find an identity after going just 8-16 the past two seasons.
On the field, Michigan faces many questions, the most important of which is who will be taking the snaps at quarterback?
Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are in competition again for the starting job in Ann Arbor to see who leads the offense.
Robinson is arguably too athletic to keep off the field, so expect to see him regardless of position on the 11th.
Defensively, look for Jonas Mouton to lead a relatively young and new defense in 2010.
The woes in Michigan will continue again this season as the Irish should handle the Wolverines easily, 35-10.
Michigan State (Sept. 18)
When I think of Michigan State, I cringe. From the image of the flag getting planted in Notre Dame Stadium, to the recent woes against them, I just do not like State.
If anyone has an answer to why we can not show up against a team we face every year, I vote you get a position on Brian Kelly's staff.
In this Battle for the Megaphone, Notre Dame should come in looking to go to 3-0 in the Big 10... oh wait, super conference wasn't joined.
Realistically, though, this will be a tough test for an Irish team under a new offense. Michigan State is coming in with a solid defense, led of course by Pre-season Heisman Candidate Greg Jones.
On offense, Michigan state returns an improving Kirk Cousins, who threw for 302 yards against the Irish a year ago.
This will be a battle no doubt, and depending on how the Irish grasp the new system will determine the outcome.
Solid O-line play giving Crist time to run the offense, Notre Dame 27, MSU 21.
O-line breaking down and an aerial attack by Cousins, MSU 28-14.
Stanford (Sept. 25)
Breathe a sigh of relief, Toby Gerhart is no longer here to terrorize the Notre Dame defense.
However, don't relax too much, because Andrew Luck is going to try to give the Irish secondary nightmares.
Jim Harbaugh is doing a fantastic job of recruiting talent, with Luck possibly being his luckiest catch, pun intended.
On the bright side, Notre Dame put up 38 points in the game and played great on offense, and without Gerhart's 205-yard performance this year the Irish are primed for a strike back.
This is not going to be the shoot-out it was last year, look for a little bit more defense to show up in South Bend this year.
Giving the benefit of the doubt against MSU, Notre Dame looks good here to stay unbeaten with a 21-17 win.
Boston College (Oct. 2)
Dave Schinskie, the 26-year-old Sophomore, is leading BC into this season with some promise.
Although he did not play very great in 2009 against the Irish, throwing three interceptions, he has an outstanding running attack that should help take the pressure off his back to perform.
Montel Harris is a lethal back who can explode and completely take over a game. Somehow, the Irish D shut him down completely, allowing only 38 yards on 22 carries.
However, the week before, Harris lit up NC State for 264 yards and five scores, something normally only seen on EA Sports' NCAA Football 11.
The Irish defense should be able to make a statement, however they are vulnerable in this game.
The lack of receiver depth on BC, however, gives the Irish the nod in a low-scoring game, 17-14.
Pittsburgh (Oct. 9)
The Pitt Panthers are coming into the season as the favorites to win the Big East, and for good reason. Their pre-season ranking, number 15, is accurate when looking ahead.
They have one of the best young backs in the country in Dion Lewis, who ran for 1799 yards in his freshman year.
Playing off recent Heisman tendencies, Lewis is possibly the best sophomore, along with Andrew Luck, who can make it a fourth consecutive year for the sophomores.
In last year's contest, Lewis accounted for 152 yards and a score for the Panthers.
No matter how I play this out in my head, I see this as a huge road block for Notre Dame's hopes to go undefeated, if they still are at this point. Pitt should handle business on its way to the BCS in a 27-20 win.
Western Michigan (Oct. 16)
This is just what the doctor prescribed after a tough and possible disappointing loss to Pittsburgh.
Western Michigan comes to town in what is sure to be a typical ND-USC caliber performance.
Oh and I can't contain myself from the obvious idea of a trap game overlooking the Broncos for next week's opponents, Navy!
In all seriousness however, WMU is going to be looking for an identity in the post-Tim Hiller era, which we all know was ever so successful for them.
Again, jokes aside, this is a good game that Notre Dame should handle with ease. I hope we get a look at Montana and some young guys in this one as we put it away early, 38-3.
Navy (Oct. 23)
I remember when Navy was the laughing stock of Notre Dame's football schedule. However, aftertwo wins at Notre Dame Stadium and a scare at tOSU, along with an 18-10 record over the past two years, Navy is a legitimate team in the college football world.
Navy is led on offense by Ricky Dobbs, the quarterback in the triple option offense that is causing defenses to have nightmares.
I am shocked that I am writing this, but this is one of the toughest games on Notre Dame's schedule.
I mean no offense to Navy by saying this, but growing up seeing the 43-game win streak, I never thought it possible.
With all else aside, insanity will not strike the defense. By this I mean, Notre Dame will not do as they have done the past three years against Navy and hope it works.
Expect Kelly and his staff to be ready and able to shut down the triple option and come out a close winner, 23-17.
Tulsa (Oct. 30)
The obsession with gold helmets continues as Tulsa travels to South Bend in this contest. They are coming in off of a 5-7 season where they put up some decent numbers.
They averaged 410 yards of offense in their games in 2009, and 29 points.
Their key offensive weapon is wide out Damaris Johnson, who had 1,131 yards receiving in 2009. Look for Tulsa to push the ball up the field in the game.
While the numbers look flashy, they didn't produce in big games against Boise State and Oklahoma the way the offense normally did in 2009.
Look for Notre Dame Stadium and the Irish to make an impact as they take down Tulsa in a closer game than people would expect, 31-21.
Utah (Nov. 13)
Kyle Whittingham is doing all the right things for this football program. The original BCS buster under Urban Meyer, Utah has gone on to have promising success ever since then.
Whittingham is coming off of a 10-3 season, and is the pre-season No. 23 team in the country.
Utah made buzz this past off season bolting to the Pac 10 Conference after receiving an invitation, but what is left for them in 2010?
They have a tough test in week one against Pittsburgh, as well as a game against TCU at home.
Utah will feature two very good running backs in Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata.
Notre Dame will benefit greatly from the bye week before this game, as well as Utah having to battle TCU the week prior.
I think Utah might be talented enough to knock off the Irish, however, Utah's schedule may benefit the Irish in this one, 24-21.
Army (Nov. 20)
This once historic and great rivalry, now is an unfortunate mismatch in college football. The game will be played at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, with Notre Dame being the official home team.
Army made great improvements last season getting to 5-7, thanks in large part to their 200+ yards per game on the ground.
However, when a team ranks dead last in passing yards per game, I don't think they will be much of a challenge for the upper echelon in the college football world.
Look for the fact that they are in Yankee Stadium to surpass the actual game, where I again expect to see the reserves getting some valuable playing time. Notre Dame 31, Army 7.
Southern California (Nov. 27)
In the season finale, the drama that is USC and Lane Kiffen get a visit from the Irish.
I honestly do not know what to expect out of USC, besides hoping that they somehow manage a losing season, although I see that as highly unlikely.
On the field, Matt Barkley leads USC into this new era, the post-Pete Carroll, and the post-scandal era.
As we all know, USC is not eligible for any bowl games, or being ranked in any of the polls. My view on this is, USC is hurting, badly.
This is the time for Notre Dame to right the ship against USC and take the series back in their favor.
My hopes is that Lane Kiffen is one-and-done at USC, because no matter how much I hate them, I don't want him to ruin the rivalry that has brought so many good games.
Overall though, the ship is set back on the right track with a 28-17 win at the Coliseum, and what I see as a 10-2 season under Brian Kelly and a potential BCS bid.