With Notre Dame football being only 18 days away, it's time for a prediction piece. We are in the final stretch of a long offseason and man-oh-man am I excited! I can already hear the fight song blasting in my garage before College Gameday starts. I already feel the leaves crunching under my feet when I walk to the cooler to crack open another delicious Bud Light. There is absolutely nothing like it. If you've been, literally, counting days like I have, you know we kick off on a Monday, let's jump into it!
Louisville will be hosting the Irish for the week one match-up. Louisville is one of the several teams I feel very confident the Irish can beat. They racked up a 2-10 record last season. One of those two wins came against a not-so-frightening 3-9 Western Kentucky team. The only time they made the highlight reel last year was in a backward manner. Alabama beat them 51-14 and made for plenty highlights, for the Crimson Tide that is. Overall, a big week one win for the Irish.
The New Mexico Lobos will be visiting South Bend twelve days after the Notre Dame kickoff in Louisville. I do not see New Mexico being a threat whatsoever in this match up. Going 3-9 in 2018 is not exactly impressive. Beating teams like UNLV 50-14 is awesome, but when you see the other teams’ 4-8 record, it becomes a little less special. New Mexico will be well-rested, along with with seven other teams the Irish play this year, due to playing the Irish after coming off of a BYE. That being said, I do not think that'll play a difference in the final score. Notre Dame will take the first two games of the season in what I believe will be a set of largely marginalized victories.
This is where the fun starts. The University of Georgia, 11-3 in 2018, practically rolled over the SEC East. They’re always a big threat to anyone they play. The Irish went head-to-head with the Bulldogs in 2017 but came up a little short falling 20-19 in South Bend. It's no secret that both schools were hurt by the 2019 NFL Draft, losing key players and captains on both sides of the ball. Georgia will be coming off of what some might call a full-speed practice when they face-off against Arkansas State. I'm not saying it is impossible to walk away with a win, but it won’t be easy. I'm sure the Irish are up to the challenge, however it hurts me to say, I think Notre Dame will be handed a loss in this one.
When week four comes around, Notre Dame will be hosting the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia will face Old Dominion just seven days before. Virginia was 1-4 on the road in 2018. Regardless of the outcome against Georgia from the week prior, this game will be very emotional, temperamental, and aggressive. You don't want to see Notre Dame lose their heads against the Cavaliers. This is a very winnable game and the team cannot afford to blow this on account of their season crumbling from a second early-season loss. This will be a Notre Dame win.
A very unimpressive Bowling Green will be the opponent in the week five match-up. Bowling Green, who will also be coming off of a BYE, was rather mediocre in 2018 with a 3-9 overall record. 2-4 on the road isn't exactly great but it's better than their 1-5 record at home. The game will be at the house Rockne built and we will want a big win going into Notre Dame’s week six.
USC would make a fantastic week six victim. The hatred lies deep between these two teams so, despite records, past match-ups, who has the franchise player that year, etc, it will be a fantastic game. 5-7 football for USC in 2018 landed them third place in the Pac-12, and they still had a one-score loss to an undefeated Notre Dame team. Granted some god awful play-calling by Chip Long could be a part of the blame, but in a game against these guys, you can't make excuses. The Irish have to flat out play their asses off. They will land another W in South Bend.
In week seven Notre Dame will travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan's best. Michigan, like USC, Stanford, Navy and more, are huge rivals for Notre Dame. This will be a very emotional game with two teams that, frankly, want to rip each other's heads off. This game, I believe, will be a big mental challenge and coaching battle. A lot of people may call me bias, and others may call me stupid, but I will take Brian Kelly over Jim Harbaugh coaching college football any day of the week. Apart from the mental game, Michigan is filled with aggression and waiting to unleash it on the Irish. A bold call here, but Notre Dame will once again walk away with a win in this contest.
Virginia Tech is up next in the 2019 schedule for the Irish. Notre Dame faced the Hokies last year on their own turf and went home with a 45-23 win. Virginia Tech finished with a 6-7 record last season. They've both lost and added good players, so this should be a remotely similar team that the Irish rolled last year. No chance at a loss in this game.
Duke will be the week nine opponent. Before laughing at the school and only crediting them for basketball, they managed to steal eight wins last year. Granted they play a lot of no-name schools, but the athletic director over at Duke has been making some serious changes scheduling more difficult and respected schools. Duke was able to deliver a big loss to Northwestern last year. Everyone who knows me knows I love that. Apart from the credit I am giving to the school, I still have to say Notre Dame will win.
The Irish will match-up with the infamous Naval Academy in week 10. Per normal, Notre Dame always plays a lot of rivals, but this week’s 10 and 11 add to that already rival-filled schedule! They square off in South Bend, and this game looks like a likely win due to Navy being 0-6 on the road last year. Notre Dame ran over Navy in 2018 with a final score of 44-22. They struggled with a 3-10 record last year but, like USC and so many others, that does not matter with these enriched rivalries. However, this is still going to be a big victory for the Irish.
Boston College will be the week 11 opponent. They racked up a 7-5 record last year, 5-2 on home turf. Lucky for Notre Dame, the game will be held at Notre Dame stadium. They do have a fairly easy schedule this year so if they get on a roll it could affect the game. I do not see any chance, whatsoever, Notre Dame could possibly lose this game. I am predicting this will be Notre Dame's largest margin of victory all season.
To finish off the season, the Irish will be heading west to California to face another storied rival, Stanford. I made a few trips to Notre Dame last year and was lucky enough to witness the 38-20 ass-whoopin' the Irish put on the Cardinal. Stanford lost Bryce Love to the NFL, which is a big loss for the Cardinal. These two teams always revolve around hot-headed and bad blood grit, and they love to get at each other. Stanford is still a good team, having went 9-4 last year and adding more good players this year. However, Notre Dame will finish off the season with one final win on the road.
This is a bold and opinionated article, no doubt, but I still believe Notre Dame will finish the 2019 season at 11-1. Should Notre Dame miraculously beat Georgia, I still feel like they will fall into a trap game somewhere else in the schedule. Jack Swarbrick, the athletic director at Notre Dame, did not leave the Irish an easy schedule this year. Weeks six and seven will be back-to-back rivals, then weeks 10, 11, and 12 are once again rivalry games. Apart from the stacked set of rivalry games, Notre Dame will have to face seven teams coming off of BYE weeks. When facing a team like Notre Dame, you want as much time as possible to study tape and condition. We will all have to wait and see Irish fans, but buckle up... Irish football is coming!
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