Weather's looking pretty good for Pitt, but that's not the kind of forecasting we're talking about. Time to get on the record and break out our Season Predictions.
Game 1: this Saturday @ Pitt.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Confidence |
|W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||100%|
Mark - I still can't believe we lost to a team that got beat by Nebraska and went to OT with FURMAN. Just do what we did in 2003: bracket their go-to receiver, stone the running game, and push it down their throats.
Mike - Pitt's DL leads to excessive "Darius for Heisman" exuberance on ND message boards.
Sean - Win, 35-23. Wannstedt has half a moustache and parts his hair in the middle like it's 1984. 'Nuff said.
Game 2: September 10th @ Michigan.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Sanguineness |
|L ||W ||L||W||L||L||L||L||25%|
Dylan - Man-boobs gets us at home, before we work out the kinks.
Sean - Lose, 28-24.
Mark - I will take every opportunity to bust Carr for being a crap coach on the road. That being said, they have lost one game at home in the last four years. They are a whole different team in the Big House.
Michael - I'm predicting a win.
Mike - The home team has won every game in this series since I was in junior high. Michigan is the home team.
Game 3: September 17th vs Michigan State.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Buoyancy |
|W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||100%|
Sean - Winner, 31-17.
Mike - This is the year we finally stop taking dumps against the Spartans.
Dylan - Time to get back on steroids, Sparty.
Mark - John L. Smith has a screw loose. Drew Stanton is a difference-maker at QB, but if we lose to these guys yet again I might just take a crap in my hat.
Game 4: September 24th @ Washington.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Optimism |
|W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||100%|
Sean - 42-14, okay?
Mike - win that feels like a loss; anything less than a 50 point margin of victory will be a disappointment. Let's steal a page from Spurrier's book and go with the onside kick on the opening kickoff. I'd be confident with that against UW's special teams.
Mark - Woof, woof. Kent, meet Charlie.
Dylan - "45 points is a lot of points to relinquish, okay? We tell our young men that football is a contest that one cannot win when giving up more points than are scored."
Game 5: October 1st @ Purdue.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Positivism |
Dylan - We'll win. I don't care how much of their defense is back.
Mark - Yeah, they killed ND last year. Overall, they were a 7-5 football team that couldn't score against teams in the big ten. Tighten up our performance on special teams and red zone offense and we win. (Oh, and coverage schemes on their 3-yard line.)
Mike - West Lafayette inferiority complex has thoroughly permeated Purdue's players and coaching staff. Even they know they shouldn't go undefeated in the regular season. Since they don't play UM or OSU they will have to lose this one.
Sean - a 23-17 loss.
Game 6: October 15th vs Southern Cal.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Hopefulness |
Dylan - Win. 'Nuff said. On this day, the echoes that Davie tried to smother with a pillow in 2000, will be awakened.
Mark - Still way too much talent for them, too little depth for us. But we might actually score some points in the second half.
Mike - a loss, but not nearly as ugly as Willingham's routine 31-point pantsings.
Game 7: October 22nd vs BYU.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Color |
Dylan - From this day forward, as it once was, there should be no analysis wasted on the BYU game. It was a "W" when they signed the contract.
Mark - Unless his last name is Nagurski, I am not impressed by dudes named Bronco. Maybe Charlie will teach the offense how to pick up the blitzes that this cat likes to run. I think he will.
Mike - We'll surpass last year's rushing total against BYU on our first drive.
Game 8: November 5th vs Tennessee.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Jocundity |
Dylan - We beat them last year, on the road, in spite of our shitty coaching staff. We'll beat them this year.
Mark - Phat Phil doesn't impress me as a game day coach. Two weeks to get ready. Potential upset (despite my prediction).
Game 9: November 12th vs Navy.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Bullishness |
Dylan - Win. Pluck only goes so far.
Mark - A crap ND team last year owned their best team in forever. Win.
Mike - A win, although Johnson is one of the better coaches we'll face this year.
Game 10: November 19th vs Syracuse.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Orangeness |
Dylan - Win.
Mike - Win.
Mark - If we lose two in a row to Syracuse, it's time for seppuku.
Game 11: November 26th @ Stanford.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds ||Aspirationalism |
Mark - A game that scares me. Harris is a good fit for Stanford and Teevens recruited some decent talent. Should be closer than most think but ND will grind them down and win.
Dylan - We will keep their "Director of Tracking Opponent Touchdowns" busy.
|Dylan ||Jay ||Mark ||Michael ||Mike ||Pat ||Sean ||Teds |
|Pitt ||W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|Michigan ||L ||W ||L||W||L||L||L||L|
|Michigan State ||W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|Washington ||W ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|Purdue ||W ||L||L||L||W||W||L||W|
|Southern Cal ||W ||L||L||L||L||L||L||W|
|BYU ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|Tennessee ||W ||L||L||W||L||L||W||L|
|Navy ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|Syracuse ||W ||W||W||W||W||W||W||W|
|10-1 ||8-3 ||7-4 ||9-2 ||8-3 ||8-3 ||8-3 ||9-2 |
Extra Credit questions...
• Identify a possible upset game; that is, a game we should lose but may be able to pull off.
Mark - USC. Big question marks for the Trojans on defense. And no one is talking about their kicking game. That is also a question mark. Two weeks to get ready.
Dylan - The upset games are obvious. We, as of right now, have no business beating USC or Tennessee (leaving aside the fact that we beat them last year). If these games were on the road, I'd consider them lock losses. At home, I like our chances of rattling the Poodle (sans 3/4 of his brain trust, avec a QB coming off elbow surgery) and Phat Phil, especially since there will no doubt be a renewed emphasis on defending the home turf.
Michael - Michigan. I'm predicting a win. Charlie should be able to outwit their defensive coordinator Jim Herrman, who has driven UM fans crazy the last few years. They can't make up their mind whether they're a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, their safeties are a huge question mark and they have to replace both starting corners. Even though it's on the road, and we'll be an underdog, I think this is a game we could win. Offensive match-ups are favorable to us, and it's going to come down to our pass rush and our back seven's ability to defend the pass.
Mike - Michigan. While their offense should be much better than last year, I don't see any improvement to the defense that we ran on last year.
Pat - Michigan. Weis should save a few tricks for Carr and Co. up in Michigan. Our new offense plus their leaky secondary and questionable defensive coaching equals possible upset in Ann Arbor.
Sean - I'm going with Tennessee. They'll be coming off a brutal SEC stretch and Weis has two weeks to prepare.
Teds - Clearly, I think it's Southern Cal. They're ripe for the taking, and ND's record following bye weeks as well as the odd things that happen when #1's come to town speak for themselves. I know that Charlie will talk about taking them one at a time, but this is the game on the schedule I suspect he has circled in his head as the one that could immediately elevate the program as well as establish his legacy.
• How about a pitfall game? (A stub-the-toe game, a shit-the-bed game). That is, a game we should win, but might blow.
Teds - BYU. It's the one right after SC, and you can't always coach away a letdown.
Sean - Depending on how emotional the SC game is, I could see us coming out very flat for BYU the following week, especially since it's sandwiched between SC and Tennessee.
Pat - Michigan State is a possibility. Crazy Legs Stanton is the big X-factor. Emotion will be sky high for Weis' first home game. Will the players lose their cool early? MSU has had our number of late and could steal another one late in the 4th quarter.
Mike - MSU. We have quite the history of shitting the bed in this series.
Michael - BYU. Even though we lost to them last year, and there is good reason to expect we'll be up for the game and ready to exact revenge, it's after the USC game...potential let-down game. Additionally, Bronco Mendenhall's 3-3-5 defense isn't easy to prepare for, and at the same time, the defense will have their hands full trying to prepare for the new Air Raid offense that Cougar offensive coordinator Robert Anae brought with him from Texas Tech. Both sets of coaches will have their hands full with gameplanning and both the players and coaches might have a rough week depending upon what happens against USC.
Mark - Pitt is a potential trap, right off the bat. No one is going to convince me that ND isnt a more talented team, but it's on the road and it's the first game of the Weis era. There are bound to be some kinks to work out.
Dylan - Pitt. We should win the line of scrimmage and minimize Palko. But we might not.
• Who's the team MVP going to be?
Dylan - Darius Walker, who will rush for 1,500 yards.
Mark - The O Line. If they live up to their potential ND is going to be able to run and pass and protect the defense. If they don't....
Michael - Brady Quinn. The quarterback is the most important player in this offense...hands down.
Mike - Quinn. About as obvious a pick as Hawk Harrelson picking Frank Thomas as his "pick to click" for 534 consecutive games in the mid-90s, but sometimes the obvious pick is the right one.
Pat - Brady Quinn. Boring pick, but if Weis' offense has any impact on this team, it's going to benefit Quinn the most. The Mighty Quinn cliches will be worn out by October as Brady works himself into a Heisman candidate for 2006. MVP - Defense - Brandon Hoyte. For all the talk about the Apache backer and the changes made to the secondary, Hoyte has sort of gotten lost in the shuffle. Not only will he lead the Irish in tackles, he will be the easy pick for defensive MVP not only for his athletic skills, but also for his leadership abilities.
Sean - Quinn is too easy a choice here. He would be my pick but to go contrarian, I'll go with Darius Walker. I think people get very caught up in the passing game with Weis' offense, but Walker has a legit chance to go over 1,200 yards this season.
Teds - Brady Quinn. If this team exceeds expectations this season, it's likely to be the offense carrying most of the load. I don't know that the lightbulb will go on quite as violently as it did for Carson Palmer in his final year, but I expect to see Quinn establish himself as one of the better QBs in the country this season.
• How about a surprise or breakout player for this season?
Teds - Rashon Powers-Neal. I think his flexibility makes him an attractive weapon to Weis and the offensive staff, and I expect him to play as big a role in the offense as anyone aside from Quinn and perhaps Walker.
Sean - Corey Mays. Talented guy finally gets his chance.
Pat - Rather than pick some freshman or sophomore, I'm going with a senior. Maurice Stovall. Many Irish fans have resigned him to Built Like Tarzan, Play Like Jane status but this is the year he guarantees himself a big NFL payday. He'll lead the team in receiving touchdowns.
Mike - Ferrine. One of the CBs has to emerge.
Michael - Corey Mays. A lot of new names on defense, but Mays will be a stalwart run-stopper in the middle.
Mark - Brian Beidatsch. He follows in the tradition of Ryan Roberts and Greg Pauly, that is, unsung guys who eventually broke out.
Dylan - My surprise player is Ndukwe, and it's not that big a surprise. I see the emergence of a bigger, badder Tom Carter.
• Finally, any general expectations for this year?
Dylan - I expect Charlie to live up to the hype. I expect the team to be disciplined and to play up to their ability, rather than down to Ty's. I will be satisfied with an 8-3 season, given that none of the three are Syracuse, Stanford, Navy, BYU, or MSU. If we beat any of the three best teams on the schedule in addition to beating the other eight, I'll be ecstatic. I'm sure Charlie's asking them, "Why not now?" That's how I feel, too.
Mark - I'd like to see a fundamentally sound football that doesnt beat itself, doesn't mail in games (BC, Syracuse, etc in 2003, Stanford and Pitt in 2004), improves over the course of the season and plays to its potential. We can be good, but there is paper thin depth. Our first 22 can play with any team in the country. Our second 22...
Michael - Even though my W/L prediction came out to 9-2, I think somehow we'll end up at 7-4 or 8-3. I just want to see an unpredictable offense which can put points on the board...I want us to be like Cal, a team which can wear teams down with a power running game and attack with a potent passing offense. I expect us, with the talent onhand, to be able to do that. On defense, I just want to see a more active secondary...we need more ballhawking from our corners and safeties. Only 5 interceptions last year from our secondary, and 1 of those was a hail mary at halftime of the Michigan State game. We have to find a way to create more turnovers on defense. I don't expect us to dominate, and I think we'll give up some yardage, but we have to force turnovers somehow. I also want to see us have a few mercy killings, so the back-ups can finally get some valuable playing time and we can rest starters.
Mike - Want to see - major improvement in the return game. It would take a lot just to bring us back to mediocre. I would like to see us be far better than mediocre. Don't want to see - injuries to Quinn, OL, or DL. Llloyd's pendulous mammaries. Keith Jackson. Bob Davie. The freshman part of the student section attempting to start the wave during critical third downs of close games. The Halls Fruit Breezers screaming fan of the game. Our coaching staff sporting the homeless Belichick look. Ushers approaching me at the games I am able to attend. Bill Kirk's roving binoculars and cameras. The crooked arm of the law while I am tailgating.
Pat - Things I don't want to see: the swinging gate on PATs, kickoffs bouncing before we pick them up, 12-men or delay of game penalties coming out of a timeout, uninspired play, playing against Stanford with bowl eligibility on the line.
Things I do want to see: our offensive line punish opposing lines and wear them down, knocking teams out in the first quarter, sticking with the run when the run is working, giving the starters the 4th quarter off in a few Irish blowout wins, special teams touchdowns, 50+ yard plays, winning a damn bowl game, opposing teams, coaches, and assorted media members wondering what the hell changed from last season's team.
I expect that win or lose, the Irish will be in every game this year. I expect players, especially the younger ones, to look better at the end of the season than they did at the beginning of the season. I expect Notre Dame to win games that people thought they wouldn't win. I expect people to realize that Notre Dame is on the fast track back to football respectibility.