Notre Dame Football: Is 2012 Schedule Simply Genius or WTF?
Notre Dame football's 2012 schedule may be the most difficult college football has ever seen. In fact, the schedule presents so many difficult matchups that only an SEC team may be able to survive the gauntlet.
With neutral matchups in Ireland and Chicago's Soldier Field, the 2012 schedule will be fun to watch. However, is an entertaining lineup worth the difficulty Notre Dame may have surviving until the end of the season.
One thing's for sure - if the Irish end the season in a pack of other undefeated teams, they'll certainly be placed in the BCS National Championship.
While it'll be fun for fans to watch the Irish take on Navy in Ireland on opening weekend, is this really the team with whom Notre Dame wants to open the season?
Navy has beaten the Irish three out of the past five years. Furthermore, their offense is one that requires discipline to defend. It'll take a much more concerted Irish effort than this year's opening fiasco if the Irish hope to pull out a victory.
Fortunately, the Irish are able to come back to the United States and rest against Purdue. Then again, after weary days of traveling, the Irish could easily find themselves in an unnecessary dogfight.
The Purdue offense can put up points when it's running effectively. A defense without Harrison Smith or Gary Gray and an offense missing Michael Floyd could stumble.
Michigan State has been a Top 25 contender the past few years. Mark Dantonio has this team producing results year in and year out. As the Irish have learned, there is no easy game against the Spartans.
Will Notre Dame be able to walk into East Lansing and pull out a victory, or will they lose another overtime thriller?
While Michigan was clearly overmatched by the Irish, this year, they're only getting better under Brady Hoke. With a year to implement his system and get adjusted to Michigan personnel, Hoke should be ready to play.
Fortunately, the Irish are at home against the Wolverines, which should give them an edge. This rivalry can go either way, however, as fans of both teams know. Can the Irish find early season consistency and bring it with them against Michigan?
Miami (Soldier Field)
The Irish will be coming off an early season bye, but the Miami Hurricanes are always a threat, even when they're down. Al Golden will do his best to recreate the success he had at Temple, but this could be a Miami program hit by NCAA sanctions. How will those affect the 'Canes' performance?
Miami has talent—and loads of it. If Golden can find some production with his skilled players, this could be a very dangerous team. A game at Soldier Field will be fun to watch, but will the Irish be able to find a victory?
Notre Dame enters its true gauntlet of games, beginning with Stanford. Though the Cardinal will be without Andrew Luck and two of its best linemen, they have a plan for success. The question is whether the Cardinal will be able to replace its stars and continue that success.
While the game is at Notre Dame Stadium, this won't be easy for the Irish. Stanford is an excellent team that will be looking to take down its Midwestern foe. At this point, it's already been a long season—are the Irish tired yet?
The Irish have had no trouble dispatching BYU in the past, but this is a football team that's been successful as of late. They have a prolific offense and are considered one of the better non-BCS programs.
The question is whether the Irish will still be healthy at this point. The next question will be whether the Irish let down. Notre Dame fans better hope they can prove they're the better independent program.
Seriously?! Now, it's getting ridiculous. Notre Dame travels to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Everyone knows Bob Stoops has his teams ready to play year in and year out.
The Sooners will be without Landry Jones, but that doesn't mean their any less difficult. A perennial Top 10 BCS program, Oklahoma will be a tough challenge in their home stadium. If the Irish get past this game, Irish fans can bet they'll be headed to a BCS game.
The Pitt Panthers are led by Tulsa's former coach, who is known for his prolific offenses. If the Irish plan on defeating Pitt, they'll have to be ready on both sides of the ball.
Not only will the Panthers have their offense finally implemented, but their defense will be prepared to stop the Irish attack. If Pitt supports its good defense with a substantial passing attack, Notre Dame could be in trouble with young corners.
Even though this will be one of the "easier" games on the schedule, Boston College has repeatedly had Notre Dame's number. They're a team that simply knows how to beat the Irish.
Notre Dame has to come ready to claw its way out of this rivalry, as both teams want their share of victory in the "Pope Bowl." Can the Irish prove themselves the better Catholics?
Fortunately, Wake Forest will be a home game for the Irish, but the Deamon Deacons regularly reside near the top of the ACC. With an offense similar to Notre Dame's, Wake Forest can be dangerous.
Once more, the Irish could find trouble against this ACC foe. Is this really another one of Notre Dame's "easy" games in 2012? The Irish will be lucky to be .500 going into this game.
Finally...Notre Dame will look to avenge its loss to USC in 2011. Not only will they look to avenge the loss, but they'll also look to prove the Trojans wrong.
After the 2011 contest, multiple Trojans accused the Irish of quitting. If Notre Dame survives the 2012 minefield of games and walks into Los Angeles unbeaten, they'll show the Trojans what quitting's all about. Only one game will stand between the Irish and a BCS National Championship berth.
While the season will have entertaining matchups, the Irish record could be awful. Then again, is it meant to be? An undefeated Irish season would be the greatest season ever at Notre Dame.