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Notre Dame Football: The North Carolina Hangover

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In which I barely talk about the actual game against the Tar Heels.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger surprises in the college football season thus far, is most definitely the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While their record of 5-1 isn’t all that shocking given the schedule up to this point, the way in which they have been winning these games is a bit eye-opening.

Your Hangover is being hijacked by some macro-thinking (but I swear we will talk about the win over the North Carolina Tar Heels before we’re done).

STUFF THAT MATTERS THE MOST

There are only four stats that actually matter and they aren’t #YardPoints: scoring offense, scoring defense, overall record, and ranking. Now, rankings are subjective and the one that truly matters (CFP) doesn’t come out for a while - but the AP Top 25 poll is a good decent nice holdover.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Where are the Irish in all of this?

  • 18th scoring offense with 40 points per game.
  • 15th scoring defense with 16.8 points per game.
  • 5-1.
  • 16th in the AP Poll.

On the surface, and possibly farther down the well, Notre Dame is doing really well in 2017. Their national ranking lines up with what they are scoring and allowing, and the one loss was to the #4 ranked Georgia Bulldogs by a whopping one point. (FYI, Georgia has the #2 scoring defense and is only allowing 10 points per game... Notre Dame scored 19 on them).

FACE TO FACE

The schedule gets considerably tougher for the Irish moving forward. Whereas Notre Dame only faced 2 top 25 teams in the first half of the season, they will now play 5 more AP Top 25 teams (as of this week’s rankings).

Forget all that noise. I’m going to take a page out of my boy @irishtightness’s book and turn to the Sagarin ratings. According to Sagarin’s strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule is ranked #29. That’s not a cupcake menu.

Moving forward, the Irish have looked good enough that ESPN’s FPI rankings have them at #10, and is rated higher than anyone else left on our schedule. The FPI is a predictor for future success, so basically, the Irish are favored from here on out (against 5 out of 6 teams that are ranked).

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

CLOSE THE BOOK ON ANY QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY

I told you we were going to talk about the game a little bit. Ian Book made his first start for the Irish against the Tar Heels, and he looked about as average as it gets for a college quarterback. He ended the game with a QBR of 27.7, which was slightly higher than North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt’s 15.5.

Still, there will be those people that will start calling out for Book the moment Brandon Wimbush stumbles just a bit. It’s kind of stupid, really. If Book would have played better, then perhaps there would be reason to open that chapter. As it is, Wimbush still provides everything Notre Dame still needs moving forward.

So just stop.

HAVE SOME FUN

While many look at the bye week as a way to not be emotionally invested in a college football game, you won’t find me telling you to go do something else. It’s college football season y’all... you gotta be balls deep to win this thing.

Instead, my meaning of “have some fun” is a plea to not overanalyze the team and the season. Weird coming from a website that puts out 4 articles a day doing as much - but I sure as shit mean it. I made the mistake in 2012 of continually waiting for the shoe to drop, until all of a sudden we were 12-0 and #1 in the country.

Obviously, we aren’t having that type of season this year, but there is still a lot to be won this season, and a lot of scores that can still be settled. Prepare to enjoy it, rather than dread the worst from happening because something stupid happened in 2002 or 2014 or whatever the hell else you can think of.

We press on.