From a negative standpoint, Notre Dame's 3-9 record was the biggest story of the 2007 college football season.
In his first two seasons there, head coach Charlie Weis earned kudos for leading the Fighting Irish to nine- and 10-win seasons. Led by quarterback Brady Quinn and other players recruited by previous coach Tyrone Willingham, Weis delivered a lot of wins.
However, last year, it all fell apart. While most experts expected Notre Dame to go through a transitional year, nobody expected the program's complete collapse. The Irish's three wins came against teams with a combined 11-26 record, and they were humiliated by rivals
This year should be a true indicator of where Weis is taking the program. He no longer has Willingham's players to lean on. This is his fourth season as head coach so the players we will see were recruited by him.
On the bright side, I don't think it is possible for Notre Dame to be as bad as they were last year. At times, they were embarrassingly pitiful. The offensive line gave up nearly 60 sacks, and the defense got worn down late in games because the offense could not sustain drives. Just because of experience gained by those players, Notre Dame will win more than they did last year.
The schedule also eases up this year. Notre Dame plays four of its first five games at home. The Irish should win the opener against
Look for them to finish that early five-game stretch with a 3-2 record (I think they will also beat Purdue and Stanford). However, the Irish hit the road for four of their next five games. One of those games will be at
Despite all that, Notre Dame should be able to win six or seven games and go to a bowl.
The Irish will take a small step forward this year. But at programs like Notre Dame, small steps often aren't enough.