3 Under the Radar Games on Notre Dame’s 2015 Schedule

Tarean Folston- Notre Dame v. Navy
Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Tarean Folston (25) runs the ball as Navy Midshipmen safety Parrish Gaines (2) pursues in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Notre Dame won 49-39. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Although many college schedules are pieced together years in advance, fans tend to use the summer off-season to breakdown, assess, and prognosticate the possibilities of the upcoming year, and this year is no different. It’s easy to put focus on games against the Yellow Jackets, Tigers, Longhorns, and Trojans, but as they say, the ‘Devil’s in the details’, and that is most definitely the case with the 2015 Notre Dame football schedule. Here are three games that have the potential to sneak up on the Irish and become the game that Irish fans will refer to after the season as the one that cost them a chance at the Playoffs.

Notre Dame at Virginia

On most any other weekend, facing the 2015 Virginia Cavaliers squad seems like a less than daunting task. Unfortunately for the Irish though, this game is sandwiched between opening week against Texas and a week three visit from nationally ranked Georgia Tech. The good news for Notre Dame? Virginia opens the year on the road at UCLA, so there is no looking ahead for the Mike London led team. The bad news (other than what we mentioned already)? tTis is the home opener for the Cavaliers, and depending on how they do against UCLA, the environment in Scott stadium could be a bit crazy. Keep in mind Irish fans, Virginia went 5-2 at home last year, with solid wins over Miami, Louisville, and Pittsburgh. This game should be a solid double digit victory for Notre Dame, but an upset isn’t out of the question.

Umass at Notre Dame

If the Irish played Umass 100 times, they would most likely win 99 of those times, but it’s that 100th time that causes concern. If you factor in that this game is played right after Georgia Tech, and right before a trip to Clemson, this game becomes the absolute definition of a trap game. Laugh if you will, but Umass had the number one ranked passing offense in the MAC last year, and a quarterback who threw for almost 335 yards a game. Obviously five wins over three seasons isn’t going to scare any opponent, but the minutemen return 18 starters this year, and are trending up in college football. The Irish could easily win this game by four touchdowns, but because of where this game lands on the schedule, an upset isn’t completely out the question. Imagine a scenario in which the Irish start 3-0, with wins over Texas and Georgia Tech, and it starts to become clearer how this game becomes dangerous, especially with the Clemson match-up looming just a week away.

Navy at Notre Dame

It’s almost unfair to list Navy as a possible trap game any longer, as they have beaten the Irish three times since 2007, and pushed Notre Dame to the edge in the last two years. And much more than the other two game we mentioned, this game scares us quite a bit, as it comes after Clemson, and right before USC. Keenan Reynolds is back for his 19th year (seemingly) and before the year is over, he will own the majority of Navy’s offensive records. There are rarely ever any games that I do not look forward to during the fall, for the Irish, but this is one of them. If the Irish win, they’re supposed to, if they lose, it’s the old “here we go again” routine. It’s basically a no-win scenario for the Irish, and is there any team that plays the Irish harder and until the final second, more than Navy? This a very dangerous game for Notre Dame, and one that could easily be overlooked fans and players alike – Let’s just hope not the coaches.

Trust us when we say if were able to recognize and define these games a possible trap games, than so is the Irish coaching staff. The funny thing about that is though, the coaches don’t actually play the game. These are young kids, many of whom aren’t even of legal drinking age, and they tend to lose focus over the course of a typical season. These types of upset are obviously not the norm, but all it takes is a look back to 2007’s Appalachian St. vs. Michigan, or 1993’s Boston College vs. Notre Dame, to know that they do happen, and happen every year. Chances are strong that the Irish will walk away with a win in all three of these games, but in our mind, these are three games under the radar that Irish fans should definitely be aware of.

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7 Comments

  1. I’ve spent all day reading about OUR Irish and something, I don’t know, “scary” (?) keeps being reinforced in my mind. We could run-the-table, with some luck. And it’s not like we must have (I avoid using the word “need”) LOTS of luck, or anything. If BK an capitalize on opportunities, some of which might involve luck, and if VanGorder’s D works hard, it’d not be a question of if we can win. The question would be why we wouldn’t win. BK has built a stable of Winners, not players. GO IRISH!

  2. My worry here is Virginia. I’m sadly too used to seeing ND come out with one true stinker of an effort every year, often against the least dangerous team on the schedule (go Tulsa!).

    I think ND wins, but the starters don’t get the rest they could use.

  3. I don’t think that Notre Dame players will lose focus this year. Stanley and Day are there to win a national championship, and so is everyone else. The younger guys want to win one this year for those two.

  4. I would say Reynolds being there for 19 years is a stretch, but I would agree on 15. It seems like he has been thjere a looooonnngggg time.

  5. I’m more concerned with Pitt and BC than UMass.
    Pitt and BC are usually close games wherever/whenever they play ND.
    And as long as K. Reynolds is healthy, we can expect many points and clock control from Navy.
    Will this be the year our D’ attacks rather than reacts to Navy’s offense?

    Texas will set the table for fans’ optimism. Charlley Strong will return TX to the elite, but not by the season’s opener. At VA- first road game and between TX and GT-is dangerous, especially with how well VA played at home last year. Past ND teams have been road warriors- not so much last year. We won’t know if this team can thrive on the road ’til after Clemson.Throw in USC and @ Stanford, with QB Kevin Hogan (Coley O’Brien’s nephew), the guy ND shunned as a recruit, playing in his last home game and against ND- his adrenalin will be flowing.

    What ND cannot afford to do is lose the game they have no business losing as they’ve done in each of BK’s seasons other than 2012. UMass, Temple, Navy, Wake, Pitt and BC are such games.

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