There’s always a lot of talk in the offseason about the upcoming schedule for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and there’s nothing wrong with that — in any shape or form. We all love to break down the year ahead, and highlight the good and the bad built into each schedule. More so that any other sport, in my opinion, a college football schedule dictates the way the season can go for the team.
There are many ways to look at the schedule each year, and one of the more common ways is to identify the tough game and then the “trap” game. For a large contingent of Irish fans, that choice is clear with the Georgia Bulldogs and the Virginia Cavaliers. I would have to agree with this assessment as well, but I am careful to not overlook the two game combination of the Michigan Wolverines and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
With that in mind, I wanted to share something that I have often thought about in the past, but I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned. While the “back-to-back” games are important and usually what we focus on, I am generally more fascinated with the three game stretch. It’s a little harder to identify some years, but the easiest way to do it is to look at the toughest back-to-back games on the schedule and go from there.
With that in mind, the toughest three game stretch for the Irish in 2019 appears to be:
- USC Trojans
- @ Michigan Wolverines
- Virginia Tech Hokies
That stretch does include a bye week between Southern Cal and Michigan, but it is without question the meatiest part of the schedule — and in the middle of the year.
The Georgia and Virginia combo has the New Mexico Lobos and Bowling Green Falcons as the bookends, and there isn’t a single bit of either of those schools that frightens me. In fact, New Mexico and Bowling Green are probably the two easiest schools on the schedule.
If you forced me to pick 3 games in a row that were the toughest without a bye week, I would still lean in this direction with Michigan, Virginia Tech, and the Duke Blue Devils. Both Michigan and Duke are on the road (and both probably at night) and again... it’s in the middle of the year.
Of course, this is just merely my opinion. Looking back at last year, there could be a reasonable argument to be made that the first three game of the year were the toughest games for the Irish (Michigan Wolverines, Ball State Cardinals, Vanderbilt Commodores). I don’t believe many would have predicted that before the season.
What are your thoughts? Am I making a reasonable selection here, or is the Georgia game so ridiculously tough that regardless of that third game, the toughest stretch must include them? Let me know in the comments below and when the toughest stretch eventually turns out to be the last three games of the season — we will all pretend this didn’t happen.