We're less than two weeks away from the start of spring practice and six months away from the start of Notre Dame Football, 2011. Expectations have already been jacked up for the upcoming campaign, but this isn't the first time in recent history that's been the case.
After a historically bad 2007 campaign, Notre Dame has registered three consecutive disappointing seasons that all hovered around the .500 mark. It's been five years since an Irish squad even cracked the final AP Top 25 poll in January, let alone sniffed the Top 10.
Will this year be different?
There's plenty of experience returning on both sides of the ball and for once momentum is heading in the right direction thanks to a strong finish in 2010, so perhaps it's finally time for a breakthrough.
Today, we're going to examine the teams that landed on the Irish schedule for the upcoming year and throw out a best and worst-case scenario for the postgame headline. Before we do that though, here's a quick snapshot of what Notre Dame has on deck in 2011:
* Nine teams that went to a bowl in 2010 (and Southern Cal)
* Record in those bowls: 5-4
* Collective 2010 winning percentage of upcoming opponents: .617
* Opponents Notre Dame has never previously faced: Two (South Florida and Wake Forest)
* Teams with new coaches: Four (Michigan, Pitt, Maryland, Stanford)