November 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leads the team out the field before playing against the Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Is Notre Dame's 2014 Schedule Too Difficult To Make A Playoff Run?

I am not sure what I am more tired of hearing? My Mom asking me when I am going to get a real job or hearing how difficult Notre Dame’s schedule is every year? What’s even worse is that both of these phrases result with me in a shouting match. It’s only a matter of time until someone tells me how The Irish are going to be terrible because of their difficult schedule. You know what? Maybe they’re right? On paper it looks like The Irish could have potentially five loses and send South Bend into a state of emergency. Notre Dame’s opponents were a combined 103-56 last season with nine of those teams going to bowl games. Also take into considering that six of those nine teams won their bowl game including Florida State capturing the crystal trophy. Will this be too much for The Irish to make a run at the College Football Playoffs? Don’t panic Irish fans, this is why ND’s schedule isn’t as daunting as it seems.

I am going to say this outright. Notre Dame will not lose to Rice, Purdue, Syracuse, Navy or UNC. Those are five games that The Irish have no business losing. 

Northwestern –  Northwestern is your prototypical Big Ten team. They load their schedule early with terrible teams and start of like 4-0. Then all the pundits claim “they’re back” but then proceed to drop back to mediocrity halfway though the season. Not too worried on this one.

Louisville – Sure, Louisville went 12-1 last year. But, they lose their golden boy in Teddy Bridgewater and their head Charlie Strong. But they are in round two of the Petrino era so that’s good right? I don’t know. All I know is that I pray he brought his motorcycle and 25-year-old volleyball player back for the Petrino Redux.

Arizona State – If a 2013 Tommy Rees ran offense could put up 37 points on The Sun Devils, then the Golson-Folson-Bryant trio will put up 74 points. Todd Graham has only ran into Brian Kelly when Rees was his quarterback. He is in for a rude awakening.  Also, Brian Kelly doesn’t lose in November. That’s like walking into a dive bar and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” is not on the jukebox. It’s just not going to happen.

Michigan – Michigan has caught the Big Ten bug the last couple years with a strong start followed by an awful finish. Sadly these starts usually include beating The Irish in games decided by one-score. But who is their quarterback? Devin Gardner? Shane Morris? Is Brady Hoke a good coach? I don’t think so. There are a lot of questions surrounding this team.    

USC– We kind of have a Louisville situation here because Steve Sarkisian returns to coaching at USC. This is a tough one because USC has the talent on their roster to compete, but I am not sold on Saekisian. Plus, going into Los Angeles on Thanksgiving weekend is not an easy task.

Stanford – There’s no way around it, Stanford is going to be a difficult game.  I’ll give the doubters this one. The Cardinal will be looking to avenge their last trip to South Bend by ruining Notre Dame’s playoff dreams.

Florida State- What can I say here that has not already been said? This is by far the toughest and most important game on Notre Dame’s schedule. No shot right? No. I actually believe Notre Dame has a chance to win this game. Now hear me out. People said the same thing in 2012 for the Oklahoma game. But then Golson and The Irish went into Norman and beat Bob Stoops. Something that just doesn’t happen in College Football.  Why can’t The Irish do it again?

There are only two real tests on their schedule with Florida State and Stanford. The rest have serious question marks surrounding their programs.

But do you know what the worst part of Notre Dame having a difficult preseason schedule is?  It’s when teams like Michigan and Arizona State don’t live up to expectations, the same people saying Notre Dame’s schedule is too difficult are going to be the ones saying their strength of schedule is garbage. It sucks. There’s nothing you can do besides just take care of business.  It’s kind of like when you meet someone from Tinder and have to tell your friends you met in a bar or at Starbucks.

Do you think Notre Dame schedule is too difficult?

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