I thought it had only been a month since my last post. I thought I had done something within that time to ready myself and some of my loyal subjects for the season ahead- but then I took note at the time lapse, and realized that it has been nearly two months since I last took fingers to keyboard.
I kind of wanted to write some things, and I vaguely remember going over some thoughts in my head as I pulled out a PBR from the cooler, and as the weeks and PBR’s tallied up, I found myself completely disinterested in the offseason and its normal bullshit. This is nothing new, as I have become increasingly more and more jaded about Notre Dame Football over the years. That doesn’t mean that I believe these things to be unimportant- rather, I have found them to be unimportant to me at these moments.
All that shit happens, and then the 4th of July holiday hits- and I come running back to it like a crackhead to his dealer. Go fucking figure.
I have developed two fundamental questions that every offseason should supply answers to, or at least (and more truthfully), answers should be given.
- Will Notre Dame make a serious run for the playoffs?
- Is the Notre Dame Football program in a healthy place?
I will attempt to answer these questions (well one tonight) with as much brevity as this liquid gold mined from the holy land of Wisconsin will allow…
There is a reason that this question begins with “will” instead of “can.” To apply the latter, allows fandom to dominate the answer. OF COURSE THE IRISH CAN FUCKING MAKE THE PLAYOFFS BITCH! It allows for hope. On the contrary, the use of the former allows for more logic and it also moves the answer to hold more honesty and less wild dreams.
Fortunately for Irish fans, I sincerely believe we can ride those wild dreams like a flaming unicorn. The schedule is the key. Yes, yes I know we could start listing off players names, schemes, Brian Kelly’s coaching acumen, and whether or not the Satanic High Priest Tom Hammond will curse us yet again- but it all boils down to who is on the schedule and when they play.
If you are to believe the ESPN FPI rankings, the Irish stand at number 6 for the preseason, and if you want to believe Phil Steele, the Irish will be ranked #12 entering the season. In short, Notre Dame will be within striking distance to start the season, and could elevate themselves quite quickly.
Using those same rankings, it sees only 3 Irish opponents within the top 20. Without going through the entire schedule game by game, we can look at USC, GT, and Clemson to be the toughest 3 games of the season. All are winnable, and even a close loss to one of those 3 along with a majority of wide margin victories over the other 9, could still see the Irish in the top 4 at season’s end. The first week of December could still be a motherfucker.
While very little of what you just read offers much explanation for such a firm answer, I simply ask you to run down the list of opponents. While the season always has peaks and valleys in terms of high-quality play from the Irish; the talent and depth and experience this Notre Dame team possesses brings us back to the word “can.” Notre Dame can beat USC. Notre Dame can beat Georgia Tech. Notre Dame can beat Stanford. Notre Dame can beat Clemson.
So, if the Irish CAN beat those 4 teams (see how I snuck Stanford in there), Notre Dame WILL make the playoffs.