A Top-10 list of the ‘Toughest Schedules’ in college football was recently released by Bruce Feldman of CBSsports.com. A team that is teased on yearly basis for the softness of its schedule is not only on the list, but sits on top of it. Notre Dame, at least according to Feldman, will play a group of teams that nobody in the nation is jealous of.
The Fighting Irish kickoff the season in Dublin, Ireland against Navy on the First of September. The Midshipmen have beaten the ‘Golden Domers’ 2-of-the-last-3 years. The bad news is Navy might be the easiest opponent on the schedule. They face five teams who finished in the final Associated Press top 25 poll. As Feldman points out about the schedule, every team they play is part of the FBS, no other team can make that claim.
Notre Dame has lost nine times in South Bend over the last three seasons. With 6-of-12 games to be played at home this season, they’re going to have to do a better job of protecting their house.
After their first road game of the year in East Lansing against the Spartans, they have a gauntlet of home opponents. They face the Michigan Wolverines, Miami Hurricanes (in Chicago at Soldier Field) and the Stanford Cardinals. Luckily they have a bye week to catch their breath between the Michigan and Miami games.
They have a history with the majority of their opponents, but when they lineup against Oklahoma, in Norman, on October 27, it will be the first time since 1999. Coincidentally the last time the two teams squared off, it was the first year with Bob Stoops at the helm for Oklahoma.
Everybody involved with the football program in South Bend wants to improve on the abysmal 2-10 record the team has in bowl games over the last decade and change. The fans want results, and deserve them, but this schedule is a bit daunting at first glance. Everybody knows ‘you have to play the games,’ but this isn’t your ordinary group of games.
The last six national champions are members of the SEC. Despite dominating college football during that time frame, the teams who end up playing for it all each year have at least one ‘cupcake’ on their schedule. There is not a single game for the Irish that can be circled as a definite win. It’s highly doubtful Notre Dame goes winless in their 2012 campaign, but missing a bowl game entirely isn’t out of the question.
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