Wally’s Wednesday: Fightin’ Irish Pigskin Preview

by Wally

As college football’s opening day fast approaches, it’s unquestionably time to put a marker out there and set expectations for the apple of my college sports eye, Notre Dame.    So here we go … first with 5 key questions for the season and then a game-by-game prediction.  

 

The 5 key questions:

1) This defense showed signs of brilliance over the last third of the 2010 season … has it really transformed into a dominant unit … a Top 10 type PHYSICAL defense?   

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2) Will starting QB Dayne Crist stay reasonably healthy and play in at least 9-10 games? 

 

 EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Dayne Crist #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes against the Navy Midshipmen at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 23, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

3) Will the Irish run the ball effectively as they did toward the end of 2010? 

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4) With stud WR Michael Floyd likely seeing double teams all season, will WRs Theo Riddick and TJ Jones and TE Tyler Eifert step up and make opposing defenses pay?

 Michael Floyd

5) This is the most important question of all:     For once, can ND get off to a good start this season … say 3-1 or better?     

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 Here’s the schedule with predictions:

 S03 SOUTH FLORIDA  (W) — a bit jittery to start, Irish pull away for a 14 point win against the Big East favorite and Lou Holtz’s son, Skip.

S10 @ Michigan (L) — the ball doesn’t bounce ND’s way and neither does some highly questionable officiating in the Big House.  UM by 2.   Pains me to write this.   Have  I previously mentioned my disdain for the Meeeeeeeeshigan Skunkbears???   Grrrrrrrrrr.

S17 MICHIGAN STATE (W) — Spartans are a very good team, but Irish are back in the friendly confines and pissed as hell about the week before.   And they’re pissed as hell about blowing last year’s game in East Lansing.   The tricks are on Sparty this time.

S24 @ Pittsburgh (W) — Irish are just a better team than Pitt, but this won’t be a cakewalk.   Who’s coaching Pitt these days?   Wanny?  Mark May???   God help ’em.

O01 @ Purdue (W) — ND is zoned in, Boilers are terrible … Irish by 24.

O08 AIR FORCE (W) — if it were Navy, I’d hesitate … but like I said, ND is focused.

O22 SOUTHERN CAL (W) — ND at home and coming off a bye week while USuC is at Cal the week before.   It’ll be close, but the Irish prevail by a field goal in the end.  (Take that, Crash!)

O29 NAVY (W) — Yes, I hesitated.   This will be a nail-biter as ND loses some focus after the big win vs USuC … but the home crowd wills the Irish to a victory in the end.

N05 @ Wake Forest (W) — Seriously?  

N12 MARYLAND (at FedEx Field) (W) — I guess this counts as a “home game” for the Irish.   Terps struggling to rebuild … ND typically plays well in these “big stadium showcase games”.

N19 BOSTON COLLEGE (W) — Don’t get caught looking ahead!!!  It’s Senior Day, so let’s go out with a win.   BC is rebuilding … hopefully they won’t be rebuilt by mid-November.   At least this one’s not out there in Chestnut Hill … a graveyard for ND.

N26 @ Stanford (L) — This will be close … possibly a battle of Top 10 teams, but the Luck is with Stanford.

 

So there ya have it … 10-2 and ranked maybe #11 in the country on Dec 1 … probably good enough to barely make a BCS bowl game … and of course folks will be whining that there were “more deserving” teams.    Could it be 9-3?   Absolutely!   Do I feel like I’m out on a limb?    Sure.    ND could lose to Sparty in week 3, at Pitt in week 4 and/or to USC in October.   Bad luck with key injuries early on could quickly turn this into an 8-4 campaign.    On the other hand, the Irish could also win one or both of the games I’ve predicted they’ll lose.   

Things appear different now …  the Irish have talented depth at just about every position except running back.    Some freshman could see meaningful playing time this year … and not necessarily because of injuries.   And I’ve detected some maturity on the roster that can weather a storm or two.    Therefore ….

Anything less than 9-3 will be extremely disappointing, at least to this scribe, unless there are extenuating circumstances.     The Irish MUST get off to a good start to be 10-2 in the end … not that it will be easy.    But somehow I think they will buck the trend over the last decade or so.   I have faith in Brian Kelly.   This is an experienced team with essentially 18 starters returning from a team that played very well down the stretch last season while overcoming a boatload of adversity.    I think this team’s got character, leadership and talent … experienced talent.    The depth is getting a lot better thanks to some nice recruiting classes … and the Irish might boast three first round draft picks next April:    WR Michael Floyd, LB Manti T’eo and Safety Harrison Smith.    When’s the last time an ND team could even suggest that?    And when’s the last time I felt comfortable saying that the Irish will be physical and tackle well?   Can’t remember.

 

Just shoot me if they’re 2-2 after 4 games … okay?   🙂

16 Responses to "Wally’s Wednesday: Fightin’ Irish Pigskin Preview"

  1. Crash   August 31, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Wally,

    Maybe 5-7 or at best 6-6 for the Irish…I happen to agree with the talking heads at ESPN…Sorry…USuC will win and Brian Kelly will be questioned to delirium in his second season…Maybe you Golden Domers need to lower expectations a bit…I know, I know, it’s been awhile and you’re excited.

  2. Wally   August 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Crash, good to see you’ve crawled out from under that rock and are paying attention. Can’t possibly see 6-6 as an outcome, so would you care to place a “friendly wager” on that with 6-6 as the over/under?

  3. Crash   September 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Been under that rock for awhile…I see I can save money on my auto insurance with Geico ? Cool ! How about we just place a friendly wager on the Notre Lame vs. USuC game ??? Let’s say the loser buys the IPA’s at the Blackhawks vs Ducks game @ the UC on 10/25 ??? I’m in ! I see the Irish being 2-3 when we arrive in South Bend for the big game and they’ll be 2-4 when we leave…
    🙂

  4. Wally   September 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Typical USuC fan … not real good at math! The annual battle on Oct 22 will be the 7th game. By the way, what are ND’s 3 losses before USuC comes to town?

    Maybe we should make the stakes dinner before the hockey game?? And i really want to see how committed you are to the “at best 6-6 for the Irish” prediction. C’mon, man up!

  5. Russell   September 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I like your optimism. Go Irish (please win 9 or more games)

  6. Chas   September 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    We need to make a list of the teams whose names Wally turns into mild profanities. We’ve got the Yankmees and USuC. Any others?

  7. Crash   September 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Sorry Wally I was wrong…2-4 going in 2-5 coming out ! Man up eh’ ? I’ll take that 6-6 and raise it to 5-7 for dinner at The Rosebud !!! You’ll be freakin’ crying in your Minestrone soup !

  8. Wally   September 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Chas – we have to give Pete credit for USuC. Add White Sux to the list.

    Crash – wager accepted. Game on! 5-7?!?! You must just want to pay for dinner. I’ll thank you now 🙂

  9. boog   September 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Boogs picks.

    SF – ND picks up where they left off with Miami. Convincing win.
    Mich – Golson and Hendrix make their debuts. Mich wishes Dickrod was back. ND by 10.
    Sparty – At home. Tricks are for kids. ND by 21.
    Pitt – Close in the first half. ND pulls away. Solid win.
    Purdue – Why? ND in a blowout.
    Air Force – Close in the first quarter. D throws a shut out the last 3. ND by 14.
    U$C – ND executes a perfect last second fake field goal and 2pt conversion to win 22-21.
    Navy – ND D shuts down Navy in the first half enroute to a 14 pt win.
    Wake – Stanford Hall subs for the Irish and pull out a 21 pt win.
    Maryland – Defense in high gear, pitches a shutout. ND Win.
    BC – Defense on a roll. ND 21-7.
    Stanford – Luck breaks leg. ND by 3.

    BCS bowl game, hopefully against LSU.

  10. Wally   September 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Wow. Can I have some of that blue and gold kool aid, Boog?? You must be drinking the antidote to whatever Crash was sippin’ yesterday.

    Why LSU??

  11. boog   September 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Why LSU? I swear I live in Baton Rouge every day I pull in to the office. Nothing but LSU stickers on the truck bumpers. Nothing better than to beat them in a bowl game.

  12. Crash   September 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Truth Serum…That’s what I’m sippin’ ! Cheers !

  13. boog   September 4, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Give all the seniors their waiver papers. I’ve seen enough from those guys that Weis developed.
    Crist may as well transfer. Good thing he is not a deer or he would be dead now.

    10-1 BCS

  14. Wally   September 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Boog … the LSU part of your prediction may indeed come true! Wish you were right about the other half.

    You’ve always despised Crist and yesterday he gave you more ammunition. A senior should not throw that INT in the endzone. You could see he was not committed to that pass and just floated it. Heck … just throw it into the 5th row and live to play another down … AND GET SOME FRIGGIN’ POINTS!! Unfortunately, they had a TD nullified a few plays before that one.

    Do you actually believe they’ll beat the Skunkbears in Ann Arbor next week?

  15. Casey   September 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Next time Crist better make sure he gets his coach’s ice cream order correct. It seemed like every time he went to the sideline Kelly was screaming something about the FUDGE…where’s the FUDGE? I don’t know maybe I’m wrong about that one.

  16. boog   September 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t despise Crist. I just don’t think he is a very good quarterback.
    If ND does not turn the ball over 5 times, they have a good chance of beating MI. ND plays better on the road.
    I guess I had the same ice cream craving as BK did. I kept screaming for mothers fudge but no one was around to get me any.

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