Friday, August 5, 2011

2011 Notre Dame Football Preview

Okay, here it is, my much awaited 2011 Notre Dame Football Preview!

September 3, South Florida
Notre Dame welcomes Skip Holtz and the South Florida Bulls as their home opener game of the 2011 football season. Though I do not think South Florida will be a walk in the park, I do not think they will be as difficult the first game of the season, as they would be if we were facing them in the middle of the season. The Bulls have several rookie players on the offensive line, and at tight end, and I'm more than confident that a well prepared, Diaco defense will be able to nicely handle USF. One must always be wary of a season opener upset, but I think the Irish will roll over the Bulls and win comfortably. (WIN)

September 10, at Michigan
Notre Dame and Michigan meet in the Big House for their first prime time meeting since September of 1990 when Rick Mirer made his first start and beat the Wolverines at home 28-24. Oh, and did I mention it's the first night game in the Big House in it's 85-year history? The Irish haven’t lost three straight to the Wolverines since their streak in 1898-1899-1900 ... yes, over 100 years ago! If the Irish lose to the Wolverines this year, it would be the first three game streak (win or loss) in the series since the Irish won four in a row in the late 80's. I still think the hiring of a new head coach in Brady Hoke will mean that the Wolverines will still be an in-transition team early in September, learning new game plans and strategies, and will be ripe for the picking by the Irish. Don't get me wrong, it will still be a tough game, It's AT Michigan, under the lights, and QB Denard Robinson is a multiple threat, but I still predict and Irish win. (WIN)

September 17, vs. Michigan State
Michigan State ... ahhhhh, the Spartans. If there is one team that I always like the Irish to beat, the Spartans are pretty high on my list, following the flag planting years. Behind Stanford, this game is one of my most worrisome game of this season. The Spartans will arrive in South Bend well rested with a few cupcakes under their belt, after the Irish have already faced two decent teams in USF and Michigan. This game will be the second meeting of Dantonio/Kelly, with Dantonio taking the first in the series thanks to the infamous “Little Giants” play-call and faked field goal touchdown that shook Notre Dame’s season, and became a Top 10 highlight reel of the 2010 college football year. I have a bad feeling about this match-up, especially if the Irish have managed an upset over Michigan the week before. As much as I hate to say it ... (LOSS)

September 24, at Pittsburgh
The Panthers are not a huge threat on my radar this year. They have a new coach, new game plan, new offensive strategy, and I don't expect them to be a cohesive unit when we face them in September. They may be a different team by the end of 2011, but not when we face them early in the season. (WIN)

October 1, at Purdue
I'm not overly worried about Purdue this year. Though they do have a significant number of veterans returning, and the game is AT West Lafayette, however they are still not quite a top tier team in my mind. Notre Dame seems to be able to handle Purdue quite nicely in recent years, and I do not expect this year to be any different. (WIN)

October 8, Air Force
Air Force is coming off two 9 game winning seasons, and a routing of the Irish last year. This, once again, will prove to be a tough game for the Irish. The Irish always seem to have a tough time defending the option attack that is brought by the military academies, and unfortunately this week the Irish will probably already be looking ahead to USC. This game worries me quite a lot, and I'm afraid this will be the upset no one expects. (LOSS)

October 22 vs. USC
While USC has plenty of talent this year in it's ranks, it is my prediction that they will leave South Bend empty handed. Finally, Notre Dame has figured out how to use the schedule to it's advantage, and has a bye week scheduled the week before USC heads to town. Both teams seem to be very closely matched, but I still think Notre Dame will dominate USC at the line, and set up a dominating run and passing game just like they did last year. This will be quite a show down, viewed by a sold out crowd, but I still give the advantage to the Irish! (WIN)

October 29, vs. Navy
Navy will come to Notre Dame fairly rested after facing Troy at home the weekend prior, and the week after Notre Dame entertains a visit from USC. I believe that after a big win against USC, Notre Dame will be able to take advantage of that winning momentum, and dish up some revenge to the Midshipmen in return for the embarrassing loss that Navy delivered to them last season. (WIN)

November 5, at Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons finished 3-9 last season, beating Vanderbilt in the season-finale after losing nine straight, eight of them by double digits. After a run of success, Wake Forest was a poor team last season, the worst of the last five years under head coach Jim Grobe. To make matters worse for them, Wake Forest has to face rival Clemson the week after they face the Irish, so most likely they will already be looking ahead to that game and not focusing on the Irish. This game is a no brainer in my mind. (WIN)

November 12, vs. Maryland
Maryland, who finished 9-4 last season, enters this year with a nice combination of returning veterans and youthful talent. The game will be played at a neutral site (Maryland's FedEx Field), and Notre Dame will wear it's home uniforms. Athlon ranks Maryland as the #33 team in the nation, and The Sporting news places them second in their division behind Florida State. The Maryland program is currently a developing program, but they are close to being a team who wins 8-9 games per season. This is the second overall meeting of the two teams. They met first in 2002, with the Irish under the helm of Tyrone Willingham, and I think once again Notre Dame will have no problem taking care of the Terrapins. (WIN)

November 19, vs. Boston College
For the first time since the mid-90s, Notre Dame takes a series winning streak into its meeting with the Boston College Eagles. This game should be one highly laced in emotion with the history of this match-up, and it being the last home game, as well as Senior Day. I still think this year's Boston College team is not as good a past year's teams, and the Irish should have no problem taking care of the Eagles at home, PROVIDED they are not already looking ahead to Stanford. Focus on THIS game will be key to a win, and maybe a review of the 1993 Senior Day debacle can keep the fire burning. The current team may not remember the 1993 stunner, but as fans, we sure do! (WIN)

November 26, at Stanford
Of all the games, this one probably worries me the most. Stanford is currently ranked #13 according to Athlon, and they are definitely a top notch program. Even with the loss of head coach Jim Harbaugh, they still have Andrew Luck and an amazing supporting cast returning. The Cardinals pretty much man-handled the Irish on both sides of the ball last year, and this year we have to face them not only on the road, but on their Senior Day as well. If we have a six game winning streak going into this game, there is always a chance we can upset this Stanford squad, but don't hold your breath. (LOSS)

Okay ... bring on your comments. I know you have them! :)

Cheers & GO IRISH!


  1. Drop the Air Force game ? No chance....Irish will dominate the Falcons.....otherwise, In my pretty much have it spot on. The Stanford game could be one that drops the Irish out of a BCS bowl so late in the year.

    Great read.....thanks.

    ~ Jay

  2. I promised an extensive comment.
    Shoot, It is too long for the comments section so i have to split it up.

    PART I:
    Despite what Coach Kelly says, we do have a favorable schedule. Moreover we can beat everybody on our schedule. 2012 will be a killer. So this is the year to strike. Because if we don't, all the momentum is lost (again). And quite frankly if that should happen, let us stop playing D-I Football. Better focus on the Interhall Championship. You know, more fun no $%&/$ Ushers or SBPD poking around and therefore more fun.

    So what are the key ingredients for this season (to be successful):
    Protect the stadium. We can not afford losing at home.
    Have at least one blowout victory. Put the fear back into the eyes of our opponents.
    Go undefeated in September, Roll the momentum.
    (Lou S. from BGI agrees :-))

    September 3, South Florida
    I agree with you

    September 10, at Michigan
    I was very disappointed after last years loss. Because everybody knew what their game plan was and we were not able to stop them. Were they better? Heck no, but we had a rookie defense team. Year1 Mulligan Numero Uno.
    Last year they lost a couple of experienced DBs for the season due to injury. They have them back and they have a better DefCoordinator. However it is a system in change and i agree, we should pick them. But it will be a close one. Very close.

    September 17, vs. Michigan State
    No, Nope, Non, niet, nein, njet, iie.
    As you said we almost beat them last year and this year we will succeed. Why?
    Because we are playing at home and we protect our stadium.
    Although their QB will have a good season, we will be able to contain his targets.
    Same on the running game. They have pretty good RBs, probably one of the best tandems in the BigInteger, but their OL is inexperienced & our defense will handle them and defensively they are pretty bleak at the LB position.
    So it is a (WIN).

    September 24, at Pittsburgh
    They are this years "A Sad State of Affairs". No further explanation necessary.

  3. PART II:
    October 1, at Purdue
    Not much to add here. You nailed it.

    October 8, Air Force
    Interesting choice you made and actually i thought about that. And finally i agree with you.
    Remember a couple of weeks ago, when i told you we loose a stupid game? This will be it.
    Notre Dame has bad habit of loosing a game, where we are the huge favorite.
    Just remember our days:
    1990 the loss against Stanford @Home. Big upset.
    1992 the loss against Stanford @Home. Big upset.
    Everybody was screaming on campus, like "We knew it, the option offense does not work" or even harsher words against Coach Holtz. He took quite a beating.
    1993 the loss against BC @Home. Another huge upset.
    Because we are still missing the final blow mentality. If your opponent lies in the grass, hit him again. Just to make sure he will not stand up again.
    Close loss. (LOSS)

    October 22 vs. USC
    The only benefit of the AF loss will be that the team will enter the stadium the next time and makes sure it does not happen again.
    And we can not afford to loose this one. They might be on par at the QB and WR position, but everything else is in our advantage:
    OL, DL, DB, Team spirit and mentality, Coaching, Home field advantage, Home crowd. So i will not think about a loss here.
    This win will be important on so many levels:
    It will carry the team through the rest of the season, Notre Dame is finally back. And it will put us into a Top10 Recruiting class.
    It is going to be THE signature home win for Coach Kelly.

    October 29, vs. Navy
    After the game last year i was as angry as after the Michigan game. It was an unnecessary loss.
    I mean, you are in the desert standing on a line of rails and in the distance of 500 miles you see a train coming. You are standing there, like a stupid idiot staring at the train and when the finally train hits you, you ask yourself:"Gosh, how and why did that happen?" Good lord, everybody was talking about the Triple option…. This was not a new invention. Year1 Mulligan Numero Duo.
    But i put total faith into our Defense Coordinator. It will not happen again.
    Check what i said in September last year: We will have the best DC in the country with Coach Diaco.

    November 5, at Wake Forest
    Who is Wake Forest?

    November 12, vs. Maryland
    They had their ups-and-downs and last year was their best in awhile. But that coaching change will pay off.
    Coach Edsall will uplift this program.
    But it will not enough to upset the Irish this year. They lost their Top 2 WR, the key OT and the No.1 rusher
    And it leaves them with a decent QB and RB (5.7 yes per carry).
    That will not scar the Irish. We are on a roll at that point.

    November 19, vs. Boston College
    BC, BC, BC. What should i say. Love & Hate.
    Of course, as good Catholics you have to love your BIF (Brethren In Faith) or Fredo. Hehehe.
    However they spoiled my Senior Season & Senior Day. And for that i will never forgive them. Not even "Sweet Caroline" can save them.
    Chase Rettig & Montel Harris are not enough to cause any concern to the Irish Defense.
    They lost 3 DL and M.Herzlich from their prized top ranked defense (against the rush) and Luke Kuechly alone is not able to disrupt the Irish attack. So:
    (WIN) and hopefully a blowout victory.
    And yes, they were also my second choice of college.

  4. PART III:
    November 26, at Stanford
    This will be an interesting game. Many say Stanford lost too many Starters and they are nowhere near the level of last year.
    I do not believe that.
    Talk about a 1-2-3 Punch at RB in Tyler Gaffney/Stepfan Taylor/Anthony Wilkerson. An exceptional QB, plus a very good OL. Ingredients for success.
    If their Defense can continue the momentum from last year, player to watch is LB Skov, it might be too much for the Irish (this year).
    Contributing the Home field advantage & sellout crowd i fear for an Irish loss.

    That leaves us with a very good 10-2 season, a BCS Bowl and another Top5 recruiting class.
    And then in 2012 Coach Kelly will be a talk of the town and not Coach Stoops.