Here comes trouble. Al Dannity has the Fighting Irish flying high and oh so close to a potential charge to the BCS. Can Notre Dame really make a big run in 2011?
The schedule The life of an independent is a testing one as the early games are often the toughest due to opponents’ conference obligations. Even the so-so teams have scheduling problems which might explain South Florida’s place at the start of the slate, quickly followed by traditional match-ups with Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and Purdue.
After completing that run against rivals, the Fighting Irish welcome Air Force to South Bend before a huge home test against USC. Navy, who dominated this game last season, will be next up before a road test at Wake Forest and a neutral site game with Maryland. Boston College will be the last home opponents for Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish head to Stanford for the last game of the regular season.
The players Notre Dame return the most starters of any team to appear on this list so far with 19 in all. Kyle Rudolph is a notable loss but quarterback Dayne Crist should still have Michael Floyd at his disposal. The defense will be spearheaded by the ever improving Manti Te’o. For all the depth there are still two big questions to answer. Firstly, can the Irish finally establish a running game? And more importantly, can Notre Dame manage the transition between Charlie Weis’ outgoing classes and Brian Kelly’s emerging prospects.
The forecast If the Irish lose just once all year they will be certain to make it to the BCS. Well I don’t think they will make the BCS so that pencils them in for at least two losses, if not three. The difficulty will come in working out where Notre Dame will prove most likely to slip up. Stanford on the road looks a probable defeat but if the Cardinal are undefeated at that stage, it’s not implausible to imagine the Fighting Irish torpedoing their national title hopes. A defeat in Stanford Stadium is still however the most likely outcome. College Football betting fans should look for Notre Dame to avenge last season’s loss at Michigan State but be wary of the trip to Michigan and that neutral site game with Maryland. USC and Navy won’t be pushovers either. The Fighting Irish have a schedule where they should be favored in 11 games but I only like them to win 9 of them.