Early this week we discussed Notre Dame’s possible win/loss totals in an article and on our weekly podcast. As it turns out, we don’t even need to play the season because of the nice folks at prediction machine.com. This website predicted the entire 2012 season for each the FBS teams. In addition to projecting the wins and losses of the team, the website also projected the rankings of the units, the strengths and weaknesses and the bowl destination.
Notre Dame is predicted to win 7.5 games and lose 4.5 games. Therefore, Notre Dame could be between 8-4 and 7-5. The Prediction Machine does not see the Fighting Irish progressing this year. If the Irish go 8-4, depending on the bowl game, that would be 3 straight seasons with 8 wins. But maybe there is more to the story than the record.
According to the website, Notre Dame’s power ranking is 25th in the nation. This seems very accurate. Notre Dame is currently ranked 24th by the Coaches Poll, 26th in the AP and 25th in ESPN’s Power Rankings. However, would an 8-win team be ranked in any of these polls at the end of the season? Probably not.
The biggest strength on the team is the linebackers. This does not seem very realistic. The offensive line is definitely the biggest strength of this team. Besides Manti Te’o, the linebackers are above average at best. The starting linebackers (which are subject to change of course) are Shembo, Te’o, Fox and Councell. The offensive line returns several players with a lot of playing experience. Cave and Martin are probably future NFL Draft picks.
The Offensive rank of the team is 28th. This ranking seems really high. Notre Dame’s offense has too many red flags to be a top 30 offense. The quarterback situation maintains very murky. Even if Golson is the starter, turnovers and inconsistent play is face the Fighting Irish. In addition, it is unclear who will set up at the wide receiver position. A ranking in the 40 to 50 range is probably better here.
The Defensive rank is 27th. This is very accurate. Notre Dame brings a solid defensive line and linebacking corps into the 2012 season. Playmakers Manti Te’o and Jamoris Slaughter will make a huge impact this season. This defense probably has the potential to be in the top 20. If Aaron Lynch had not left this team, it may be more a definite thing.
The greatest weakness pointed out by Notre Dame is the typically tough schedule. This is a pretty obvious statement but Notre Dame really has one of the most difficult schedules in the country. 5 of the teams (USC, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Michigan and Stanford) that Notre Dame plays are ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll.
Overall, it would not be surprising if Notre Dame ends up at 7-5 or 8-4 against this schedule. Although that might cause some fans to be restless, Notre Dame is still trending upward. Notre Dame has a better chance to go to a BCS game in 2013.