In the weeks leading up to the kickoff with the Temple Owls on September 2nd, here at OFD we’ll be giving you 17 predictions for the 2017 season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
No. 6: The Irish are undefeated heading into USC
Hot takes and bold predictions — perhaps the best part about the preseason. Basically it’s a time for anybody to throw crap on the wall and see if it sticks. It's a time to be bold in hopes of it paying off later.
Last, year I got a little greedy with one of my predictions when I said the playoffs were a realistic expectation for Notre Dame. I looked like a buffoon after week one. This year I’m scaling back on that and trying something a little less daunting.
That’s right, the Irish will be 6-0 heading into the USC game in mid-October. Yeah, I know what you’re probably thinking: that I’m some whack-job delusional Notre Dame homer. Hear me out.
The first six games aren’t exactly Murderers' Row in terms of schedules. Yes, they have one giant matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs, but they get them at home in prime time. That game is a toss-up for me.
The rest of the games, though, are winnable games, if not games where Notre Dame will be the favorite.
Yes, the Temple Owls have been a solid team the past two seasons, but they lost their head coach and the game is at Notre Dame Stadium. Also, you’re Notre Dame and they’re Temple. That’s a game you should win at home.
Then they have Boston College and Michigan State on the road. These are two teams that somehow always find ways to give Notre Dame fits, no matter how good they may or may not be. Boston College did make strides last season after going 3-9 in 2015. Michigan State on the other hand regressed a lot in 2016, and the outlook doesn’t look that great for this season. Nevertheless, these are games where Notre Dame should have the advantage on both sides of the ball.
After MSU, the Irish get Miami (OH) at home. Come on. Next.
Outside of the Georgia game in week two, North Carolina on the road is the toughest game out of the first five. Yes, UNC lost Mitch Trubisky, but they replace him with Brandon Harris, who was a highly rated recruit out of high school and started during most of three seasons at LSU. The Tar Heels also run an up-tempo offense, which has given Notre Dame some trouble in the past. This game also has a good chance of being a night game, so you know UNC fans will be amped up for it.
By this game Notre Dame will be rolling, though. There will be familiarity with Mike Elko’s defense. Brandon Wimbush will have settled nicely into the starting quarterback role. I think this a game Notre Dame will win, but it won’t come easily.
This may be my boldest prediction yet, and you might think I’m dumb for it. But as I said before, this is what is fun about the off-season and preseason.
**Editor’s Note: I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and think this was a dumb prediction and they’re going 0-6 through the first six games.**