Monday, August 6, 2012

Who made Notre Dame's football schedule this year?

"Why are we playing Oklahoma this year?" asks the leprechaun.

Year in and year out, we hear a lot of propaganda about Notre Dame's football team playing the toughest schedule in the country.  Many years, that is overblown, but not this year.  The schedule maker did not do the team any favors because the Fighting Irish play some whopper games this year.  At least one preseason publication rates their schedule as the toughest in the nation.
Notre Dame plays:  Sept. 1 vs. Navy (in Ireland), Sept. 8 vs. Purdue, Sept. 15 at Michigan State, Sept. 22 vs. Michigan, Oct. 6 vs. Miami, Fla., (in Chicago), Oct. 13 vs. Stanford, Oct. 20 vs. Brigham Young, Oct. 27 at Oklahoma, Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 10 at Boston College, Nov. 17 vs. Wake Forest, Nov. 24 at USC.
In Notre Dame's favor is that they only play four true road games.  Another two are on neutral fields though those should be considered home games.  Seriously, can anyone argue with a straight face that playing Navy in Ireland is a neutral site for both teams?  Additionally, playing Miami in Chicago is like playing in their own backyard.  Chicago is Notre Dame country and Miami does not bring a lot of fans on the road (or at home for that matter).
Still, there are no games that can be considered 'gimmies' on the schedule. September tests include a road game at Michigan State and at home against Michigan.  The Big 10 is consistently the most overrated conference in the nation. However, both those teams are formable foes.  October's highlights include a home game against Stanford and a road game at Oklahoma. Stanford has been highly ranked the last two seasons, but may see a slight drop off this year.  Oklahoma is consistently one of the top programs in the nation.
Notre Dame closes out the regular season at USC.  The Trojans are considered by many to be the top team in the nation and are ranked third in the preseason coaches' poll.
From top to bottom, this is a strong schedule.  The only minor criticism is that they play no teams from the Southeastern Conference.  It is difficult to consider their schedule the toughest in the nation if they do not play any teams from the toughest conference.  Still, there is no way to know if that was Notre Dame's choice or that no SEC teams would play them.
Based on this schedule, getting to 10 wins would have to be considered a tremendous accomplishment for Notre Dame.


Anonymous said...

I think they can win 10. They won't beat USC or Oklahoma, but they will be considered favorites or even with the others. I don't think it's crazy.

Chris said...

Anything is possible, but I can't see them winning ten. The Oklahoma and USC games are sure losses. That means they have to win all of their remaining games to get to ten. Given how inconsistent the program has been in recent years, I don't see it happening. I think eight wins is more realistic. However, like I said, anything is possible.