Sweet Sixteen and A Golden Opportunity
The NCAA has officially released its top 25 for the upcoming season of college football. These standings are based on how a team finished last season, coaches, and by computer programing. Either way the Irish are #16 and have a rough road of opponents ahead of them.
If you have even glanced at the Notre Dame football schedule you know that statement was complete sarcasm. The Irish only have 3 opponents that are ranked in the top 25. The Irish strength of schedule will not be extremely high but increases the possibility of going to a BCS (Bowl Championship Series) game or competing in a national championship game. The teams listed below are in order of appearance on the schedule.
One of these teams is Michigan State who are ranked 17th in the preseason poll and face the Irish on Saturday September 17th at 3:30 Eastern Time. The next ranked opponent for the Irish is USC, who are ranked 25th and play the Irish on October 22nd at 7:30 Eastern Time. Both of these games are at home which may contribute to the Irish play. However, then comes the biggest test of the Irish season.
This test comes as the last game of the year (excluding bowl games) against the 7th ranked Stanford Cardinal. Notre Dame will be traveling to California to play the Cardinal on Saturday November 26th. Stanford, looks to be a formidable foe, ranking among the top offenses last season. A key in this offensive force was quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck as you may recall lost the Heisman Trophy to Cam Newton but still was considered to be the top pick in the NFL draft. When the season was over Luck had to make a critical decision to stay at Stanford or go to the NFL.
Luckily for Stanford, he (Luck) decided to stay in College and graduate, then go professional. Which means that for Irish fans that the Cardinal attack is going to be led with great precision, accuracy, and tempo. The only real help that the Irish could get is massive defensive improvement or the changing of the offense at Stanford at the departure of Jim Harbaugh, who left the program to join the San Francisco 49ers.
Whether it be key departures or key arrivals the Irish will have to compete in every game if they are to even dream of a National Championship run. Yes, the Irish have the schedule and very few real challenges in the season, but unless the Irish can prove they belong, the Irish will not get into a championship game.
The road may be paved with an easy schedule and very few tests for the Irish but each test will be a major impact on seeding throughout the year and in a bowl game if the Irish are selected.
Being selected is an honor and Notre Dame is poised to make a run into the bowl season. The big games listed above may decide whether or not the Irish make it into a BCS game. Currently, the Irish are only looking to get better in the polls and succeeding in the future. Very soon the questions about the Irish style of play and all off season questions will be answered.
The real question that you can leave un-answered is who is playing who after the season ends? So, Irish fans, are you ready to make your season count? Are you ready to wake up the echos and storm the fields? Get ready this may be the best situation you can get.
By: Eric Monahan
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