Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 31, 2015 at 7:00 AM
New season…same old preseason talk about how many in “the media” think Notre Dame has a “legitimate shot” to compete for the National Championship as their head coach talks about how that’s “the goal” every season.
Look, Notre Dame has consistently been a winning team. Nothing wrong with that. If they played in the SEC or Big 12, they’d finish near the middle of the pack most seasons. Even when things did actually break their way with a string of close victories against non-superpowers a few years ago, they were still badly outclassed and exposed by Alabama in the title tilt. Squashed like a bug.
The TV networks have a vested interest in hyping Notre Dame because of their TV appeal. Even if those TV broadcasts ultimately just show them losing home games to the likes of Northwestern (43-40 in OT) and Louisville (31-28), or getting obliterated on the road by teams like Arizona State (55-31) and USC (49-14)…that’s not going to stop NBC, ESPN, ABC or whoever from telling you great things are just around the corner.
It’s 2015….so you’re already hearing about how great things are around the corner! Let’s kick off our look at the three major college football Independents with a rundown of Notre Dame. All data comes from the respected Athlon publication (though we had to subtract a returning starter from that periodical because quarterback Everett Golson transferred to Florida State).
2014 Record: 8-5
2014 Rankings: 32 on offense, 71 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 10 on defense
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
Notebook: The good news is that we see a lot of returning experience. Having 10 guys back on defense is usually great…but this wasn’t a very good defense in 2014. You saw all the points allowed in those losses earlier. College history doesn’t have a lot of examples of teams rising from #71 on defense to being legitimately fantastic the next season.
We mentioned that Golson transferred. Experienced, GOOD players don’t do that if they think a championship is about to be won at the original school. Looks like Malik Zaire will be the starter after he put up good numbers vs. unprepared and disinterested LSU in the Music City Bowl. If that really is how good he is…then the Irish do have a chance to make a run at 10 wins. But, if that was simply a matter of exploiting a flat foe, the Irish are dealing with danger spots vs. Texas, vs. Georgia Tech, at Clemson, vs. USC, and at Stanford. You have to really be looking through rose colored glasses to see 12-0 or 11-1 vs. that slate with an inexperienced starting quarterback and a soft defense (by the standards of real contenders).
That season opener vs. Texas will give handicappers a decent read. Week Three vs. Georgia Tech is probably the best early test.
2014 Record: 8-5
2014 Rankings: 26 on offense, 56 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 6 on defense
Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
Notebook: This team is always a handful when Taysom Hill is healthy at quarterback. They’re much more vulnerable when he’s hurt…which isn’t uncommon since he runs himself into injuries. That means, you should be looking at them early at Nebraska, vs. Boise State, at UCLA, and at Michigan in what has to be one of the most brutal September schedules we’ve ever seen. If the Cougars can survive that, they could coast until a mid-September meeting with Missouri. The markets have already seen sharp money come the Cougars way in early matchups. Respect that money then monitor the team’s health.
2014 Record: 4-8
2014 Rankings: 102 on offense, 90 on defense
Returning Starters: 2 on offense, 4 on defense
Head Coach: Jeff Monken
Notebook: There are only three Independents now that Navy has joined the American Athletic Conference. Army is much more like a 2-10 type team that has downgraded its schedule. One of their losses last year was to Yale of the Ivy League! One of the wins was over Fordham. So, we have a bad team that was ravaged by graduation. Very tough to assume good results unless you see something early in the season at Connecticut or vs. Wake Forest. Great kids. Future heroes. Not a football team you should invest in barring new evidence.
Our football previews continue tomorrow with the ACC. Keep building your football bankrolls with BIG BASEBALL WINNERS! You can purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Remember to ask about our special “Dollars of August” package when you call.
Here’s what’s coming up in the NOTEBOOK…
Saturday: College Football Preview…ACC Atlantic
Sunday: College Football Preview…ACC Coastal
Monday: MLB Series Preview…Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Kansas City at Detroit
Wednesday: College Football Preview…Pac 12 North
Thursday: College Football Preview…Pac 12 South
Friday: College Football Preview…Big 12
Saturday August 8: NFC North Preview to get you ready for the Hall of Fame Game (Vikings vs. Steelers)
We’re transitioning to a more football-heavy approach as the NFL Preseason looms. Our pro divisional previews will run concurrent with the first several days of exhibition action. Amazing how fast the summer is flying by. Be sure you make the most of this summer with RED-HOT JIM HURLEY!
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