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Notre Dame's 2009 Football Schedule: It's Not That Easy

Erin McLaughlinSenior Analyst IIAugust 6, 2009

SOUTH BEND,IN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish carries the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2008 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It's a month before Notre Dame opens it's season against Nevada, and the folks in South Bend can't wait.

Irish fans have been waiting for this game since Christmasthat was the day after Notre Dame came alive in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. It was the game that Irish fans think awoke a sleeping giant.

During the offseason, momentum for Notre Dame continued when Mark Sanchez left USC for the NFL. Then it continued when Manti Teo chose Notre Dame over USC. The Irish took this momentum into the spring and had a solid spring season.

Now, Irish fans are expecting big things this year. Notre Dame haters do expect them to win 10 games, but they say it is because of an easy schedule and not because of improvement.

I have a problem with that. Looking at Notre Dame's schedule, I don't see anything easy about it.

The Irish open with Nevada,which is a game that the Irish should win but can't take lightly. Nevada is the fourth-best program in the WAC, but that conference has sent both Boise State and Hawaii to the BCS in recent years. I have seen Nevada play both of those teams tough when they were at their peak.

Notre Dame then goes on the road to face Michigan. Now, Michigan is probably still a year away from being Michigan again, but it is still a game that cannot be taken lightly. Let's be real: Nobody can criticize the Irish for playing Michigan. The Wolverines are generally a tough opponent and probably will be improved some this year.

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Then, it will be Michigan State coming to South Bend, which is never an easy game. The Spartans are a program on the rise, as they were in the Capital One Bowl, which is just below the BCS.

Next is at Purdue. Well, OK, this is a program in transition with a new coach and plenty of new faces on the field. This is one the Irish should handle quite easily.

Next up is Washington. Again, this is another program in transition with a new coach. Jake Locker is scary, but the Irish should get it done.

Next, the Irish have a bye, which is good to prepare for a tough stretch. They then have arch rivals USC and Boston College in back-to-back weeks.

Do I even have to explain how this is not easy?

Next up is a trip to the Alamo to face Washington State, which should be another relatively easy win for the Irish.

Notre Dame ends the year with a pretty tough stretch. Navy is a program that is much better in recent years. Pittsburgh was just picked this week to win the Big East. Connecticut is another solid Big East team that certainly will not be an easy victory.

The Irish end the year at Stanford, who always plays them tough. I like what Jim Harbaugh is doing with that program, and Stanford is definitely a program on the rise.

I really only see three easy wins. There are five games that the Irish should win but can't take lightly. There are three games that will be that will be dogfights that could go either way, and one game in which the Irish will be heavy underdogs.

Can somebody please explain to me what is easy about this schedule?

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