As The Irish walked off the field in Norman on Saturday night they had accomplished something very few thought they could. By doing so they had finally secured the “statement game” victory that had eluded Notre Dame and it’s fan-base for the last 15 years. The atmosphere in Memorial stadium was electric and felt like a bowl game, and although the Irish squad embraced it, they did not let it overwhelm them. At its core this Notre Dame squad is young, and the type of pressure these young kids dealt with is typically the kind that allows for more mistakes, unforced turnovers, and a general lack of adherence to the coach’s game-plan. Thankfully for Irish fans this is not a typical group of young kids and most would agree that Notre Dame played its most complete game of season and have forced the non-believers to finally take notice – the Irish are back!
Coach Kelly said it best with his post-game remarks talking about sticking to the plan, taking one week at a time, and focusing on the task at hand. Some would consider these remarks just your typical coach speak, but any true Irish fans know that their coach was speaking honestly and will make sure that this team does exactly that. He will allow the kids to enjoy this latest victory for 24 hours, and then it is time to start worrying about Notre Dames next opponent, the Pitt Panthers. With four games still left on the schedule it is imperative that the Irish stay focused and truly take it one week at a time, but that doesn’t mean that we have to. Each of the final four teams left will present a different type of challenge each week, and some will be obviously be more challenging than others.
Pittsburgh Panthers – Led by Coach Paul Chryst, the Panthers have been average under his current tenure, but if we are speaking honestly he walked into a mess. The panthers best win of the season would obviously be against a decent Virginia Tech team, but also had a horrible loss to start the season against Youngstown State. Pittsburgh has a duel threat in the backfield with Ray Graham and Rushel Shell that will allow fresh legs all game long, and Panther QB Tino Sunseri might give the Irish secondary a test as he has thrown for over 2000 yards, 13 td’s and only 2 interceptions so far. Some will call into the question the strength of schedule, and they would be correct. With three of their four wins coming against the likes of Temple, Buffalo, and Gardner-Webb, the Panthers are in no danger of taking over the top spot in BCS. They did give the currently undefeated Louisville Cardinals a tough match, and we would imagine that they plan on doing the same to the Irish. While we don’t see Pitt pulling off the upset here, we do see a closer game then some might expect. They can move the ball, but lack of a big strike offense and a consistent defense will hurt the Panthers in the end.
Notre Dame – 31
Pittsburgh – 17
Boston College Eagles – Whenever we talk about Boston College it is inevitable that someone will bring up 1993. Thankfully this version of B.C. football is nothing like that. The Eagles best win of the year so far happened just this past weekend against a very average Maryland team at home. This is a squad that has lost to the likes of Miami, Army, and Georgia Tech. The Eagles QB Chase Rettig can hurt your downfield, but lack of speed really hurts them in big play ability. Rettig also struggles with consistency at times, and should do the same against the Irish. The running attack is actually a bigger problem for B.C. as Andre Williams is averaging just over 4.5 yards per carry and as a group they are ranked 94 th in the nation. They lack depth on both sides of the ball, can’t score points, and give up a lot of them. Unless the Irish just absolutely take the day off in all 3 phases of the game, this one should be over shortly after it starts.
Notre Dame -48
Boston College – 13
Wake Forest – Where do we begin? Against teams that have a winning record in 2012 the Demon Deacons are giving up 39 points a game, but struggle as a team putting up points. Their quarterback Tanner Price has some severe issues in his game, and they just don’t go deep as a team. Price is averaging just 6.21 yards a completion, and his best receiver Michael Campanaro has just 44 receptions’ and is nursing a broken hand right now. Josh Harris and Deandre Martin will get the bulk of the carries in the backfield, but neither one of them pose much of a threat to the stout front seven of the Irish. This is the last home game of the careers for the Irish seniors, and we just see no scenario in which they allow the Demon Deacons a chance to be in this game.
Notre Dame – 44
Wake Forest – 9
USC – This is a game that could be one for the ages. Although USC is struggling this year on the defensive side of the ball, they can score points with the best of them. They have the ability to really hurt you down field and covering the likes of Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, and Xavier Grimble will be no easy task for the Irish young secondary. The Trojan offense also has a trio of talented backs that can cause havoc in the run game against the Irish. Silas Redd, Curtis McNeal, and DJ Morgan all have the ability to run outside and inside, and have very good athleticism, and Redd has shown some ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The USC defense is talented, but has not played as a complete group much of the year. They have given up 21 points at Stanford in a loss, 29 points to Syracuse on the road, 28 points to Utah at Utah, and most recently gave up 39 points in another loss to Arizona on the road – do you see the trend? Now it is a different story when the Sothern Cal plays at home, as they have only given up a total of 25 points in three games in the coliseum. We are going to hold off judgment and a prediction of this game as we want to see what the Trojans can do against an elite team when Oregon comes to town this Saturday night. We have a feeling this game could get ugly quick for USC, but a lot of fans and media felt the same way about the Irish in Norman this past Saturday.
Prediction – TBD
If the Irish play up to their ability over the next three weeks, they will walk into USC on November 24th at 11-0 and in serious contention for a shot at the BCS National Championship Game. There is still a lot of football to be played, and at any time an injury could happen, certain teams could lose, so predictions are just that. So much is still unknown, and only time will truly tell the rest of the story for this 2012 Irish squad. It has been a long time coming for Irish fans so we suggest this. Instead of worrying about USC and a shot at another championship, try and enjoy every minute of what Coach Kelly and company is providing this year. A team that battles hard every week, a team that is full of good young men, and press-coverage that finally isn’t an embarrassment to watch.