Will the Notre Dame Fighting Irish go undefeated under Brian Kelly this season?

In the PBQ Era (aka the Post-Brady Quinn Era…yes, I still proudly wear my number 10 jersey), the Irish have broken many hearts season after season. This probably isn’t new news to you if you know anyone invested in Notre Dame football because we don’t exactly hide our emotions well…especially from my seat in the student section. But in our minds, why should we? All we want is to return to the glory days of double digit win seasons…is that too much to ask for?? We don’t think so, but our recent records say otherwise.

2007: 3-9. We knew it was going to be bad after losing our Golden Boy but we thought our new California Boy could lead us to a little better than this.

2008: 7-6. Big improvement, but not good enough.

2009: 6-6. So much for all that improvement. Bye, bye Charlie Weis.

2010: 8-5 We know it’s your first year Brian Kelly, but did we seriously just lose to Tulsa on our own turf?

2011: Won’t be a disappointment.

At this point you’re probably thinking one of two things, if not both:

1) Here it goes again, another overly enthusiastic Notre Dame fan with unrealistic expectations or

2) Why will this year be any different for the Irish?

While, yes, I’m guilty of being one of those obsessed Notre Dame fans with only three items of clothing in their closets that don’t say Irish or have a leprechaun on it, there’s logic behind my optimism this year.

One big difference maker is Head Coach Brian Kelly. In his second season at Cincinnati, Kelly led the team to their first ever Big East title win and landed an invitation to the Orange Bowl. If it only took two seasons at Cincinnati, it should only take two at Notre Dame.

Now let’s turn to the schedule. In our last four games, we defeated Utah, Army, USC, and Miami giving up an average of only 9.8 points. There’s no reason why we can’t pick up right where we left off.

I’m sure at this point, you’ve heard analysts break down this year’s Irish schedule, but here’s how students are looking at our opponents this season.

vs. South Florida We’ll beat them because it’s South Florida and our home opener, but we can’t say anything bad about a Holtz coach…EVER. So, when Skip Holtz and the Bulls come to town we’ll take care of business but show respect for mini-Lou.

@ Michigan Even though we made Denard Robinson look like a Heisman Trophy winner when he broke records against us last year, we’re more prepared now. And can anyone name another player on the Wolverine roster? Michigan is in a rebuilding period with Brady Hoke taking over as head coach so it’ll take them a couple years to get the new program established. And for those of you concerned about our chances of winning at the Big House, Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin all did last year so it’s not impossible and we’ve done it before.

vs. Michigan State This is going to be a good game. Not only does Michigan State always give the Irish trouble, but they’ve gotten a lot of preseason hype after their 11 wins last season. Home field advantage will help us in this one but it’ll be a nail biter.

@ Pitt It’s their third coach in twelve months…enough said. Irish will take care of business.

@ Purdue Hard to consider this a good in-state rivalry when Purdue has only won three times in the last nine years. Make that three times in ten years after October 1.

vs. Air Force We can never say anything bad about the armed forces after all they do for us and our country. We always thank them for serving, and this year we thank them for the W too.

vs. USC USC stands for “U Shouldn’t Cheat” in our terms. In our first home night game in 21 years, the energy will be electric and the Trojans will be pleading for mercy by the end of this one.

vs. Navy We didn’t show up when we played them last year, but we’re hoping to start up our 43 game winning streak record against them this year with a victory.

@ Wake Forest I almost applied there. There was one major red flag though…football program was a little lacking and it still is. We’ll be able to put this one away quickly.

@ Maryland What’s a Terapin? Doesn’t really matter. We’ll win this one easily.

vs. Boston College “Backup College” t-shirt sales will skyrocket on campus this weekend. And if the game goes as we’re expecting, our backups will be in by the 3rd quarter.

@ Stanford – With any luck Andrew will be looking ahead to the draft or a bowl game and lose a little focus against us. This one is going to be tough. We’ll need a little luck of the Irish to pull it off.

While it was fun to pick on all our opponents, I actually think we have a legitimate chance for double digit wins this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Irish end up 10-2 and Irish fans everywhere will be booking holiday vacations to a good bowl game. While maybe it’d be better to be cautiously optimistic about the team, with only two years left as a student I’m going all in. Our time is now. Can’t wait for September 3!

P.S. This could be Brady Quinn’s breakthrough year too :)

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