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Keeping Up With The Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Z.W. Martin recaps the Notre Dame Fighting Irish's off-season, predicts the future and scrawls some general smart alec-ness.

Hey, guys. It's Z.W. Hope you're doing well. I have something of a confession to make. You ready? Okay. Here we go. I'm a... Notre Dame fan. Like a really big one. That wasn't so bad, was it?

As you've probably noticed over the years, all Chicago major media outlets cover Irish football and, despite Northwestern's greatest efforts, Chicagoans either root for the college they went to or -- if you're Irish, Catholic or a god-fearing human being -- for gold helmets and an overwhelming sense of self-worth. I fall into like three of those categories, so here I am. A Notre Dame fan. I tell you this because I will do my darndest each week to bring you some kind of Notre Dame news or game recap each Monday. This is not a promise, but a hope. A hope I hope to keep by hoping really hard. However, until Monday -- and Saturday's game! -- lets do some pre-season notes, predictions and analysis, or something.

Pre-season notes

  • The biggest question that really wasn't a question from this off-season was who was going to be the opening day quarterback for the Irish. The smart money was on Dayne Crist -- despite Tommy Rees' 4-0 record -- and he was, in fact, announced as Notre Dame's QB-One a little over a week ago. Unfortunately, Crist's knees absolutely hate being functional, so we shall see how long this lasts. I'm also a little surprised I haven't read a Tommy Rees is Matt Saracen post somewhere. Maybe I should write that.
  • The Irish return eight starter on both sides of the ball. This includes four-out-of-the-five offensive lineman positions. Defensively, they lose only one starter at each level (line, linebackers, defensive backs).
  • All around stud wideout, Michael Floyd, will play! Despite a DUI on top of two other previous alcohol related incidents (gotta love big time college football). Basically, he had to complete community service, get some "help" and stay out of jail. He did all three. Lets just hope he stays away from the sauce. At least until the Raiders draft him in the first round. Purple drank, anyone?

Cool stuff

  • The uniforms for the first ever night game at the Big House in Ann Arbor are rather sweet and throw back-y. Check it.
  • I was playing NCAA Football's new Dynasty Mode -- where you start as a coordinator somewhere crappy then build yourself up -- and I was given the offensive coordinator job at USF, then became the head coach at Notre Dame. Kind of weird, right? Anyone there?

Predictions

Below is Notre Dame's schedule. It is not easy by any standards. Each game is a potential loss (outside Air Force, hopefully). There is a lot of hype around this team because of their 4-0 finish against teams like Utah, USC and Miami (FL). I am just having a hard time seeing them getting through this schedule clean. I'm going with a hopeful, totally fan-biased, 9-3 (shown below). But a more realistic 8-4 in "real life". I would guess that loss would come by the hands of Michigan, Pittsburgh, USF or Maryland.

09/03/11 vs. South Florida @ Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET (W)

09/10/11 at Michigan @ Ann Arbor, Mich. 8:00 p.m. ET (W)

09/17/11 vs. Michigan State @ Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET (L)

09/24/11 at Pittsburgh @ Pittsburgh, Pa. 12:00 p.m. ET (W)

10/01/11 at Purdue @ West Lafayette, Ind. 8:00 p.m. ET (W)

10/08/11 vs. Air Force @  Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET (W)

10/22/11 vs. USC @ Notre Dame, Ind. 7:30 p.m. ET (L)

10/29/11 vs. Navy @ Notre Dame, Ind. 3:30 p.m. ET (W)

11/05/11 at Wake Forest @ Winston-Salem, N.C. TBA (W)

11/12/11 vs. Maryland @ Landover, Md. 7:30 p.m. ET (W)

11/19/11 vs. Boston College @ Notre Dame, Ind. 4:00 p.m. ET (W)

11/26/11 at Stanford @ Stanford, Calif. 5:00 p.m. PT (L)

Go Irish.

Twitter @ZWMartin