Game by Game Predictions ’13: Leprechauns’ Revenge

We are BAAAAAAAACK PEOPLE!

Another annual installment of the post that made everyone LOVE dancing Leprechauns! AWWWWW YEEEEEEEEAH! Once again I’ll be picking every game before we’ve even seen one, my stellar results will WOW you (one way or another) and we’ll all get to enjoy the leprechaun jig. Sweetness.

My records since we got started are not all that amazing. I’d call it spots of brilliance with some dirt…a little up and down. But whatever, I’m trying to predict each game prior to seeing one! And it’s fun. And the leprechauns RULE. To wit:

07: I said 8-4 with a lean towards 7-5. We were the worst. At least I was a bit pessimistic, but not great. WHOOPS.
08: I said 7-5 with a strong lean to 6-6. Unfortunately I was pretty close. GOOD.
09: Said 10-2. WHOOPS.
10: I said 8-4 with a lean towards 7-5 I pretty much nailed it. GOOD.
11: Good Lord I crushed ’11:

“So I am going with 11-1 as our upside, 10-2 as likely, and 9-3 as our downside this year. BUT, we can win every game. If we get the bounces and we can stay healthy, this is a BCS team. Could be a MNC game team. If all hell breaks loose, we dont get the bounces, we get hurt in key areas, and we slip again on a fake FG in overtime, we finish 8-4.”

I was right about the team, wrong about the bounces big time. GOOD.
12: The exact opposite of ’11. I thought we’d be good but feared the rough schedule and said 8-4, but last year we got ALL the bounces and pleasantly over-performed. WHOOPS

Since I missed it last year, I should be good this year? I think? Anyway…

A reminder of the rating system: THE DANCING LEPRECHAUNS! Here’s the Scale:

This is just as likely to be wrong as it is to be right (aka the BadKermit Effect)

I’ve got a good feeling, but am leaving myself some wiggle room

This is a lock, I am a genius, I cannot be wrong.

So…off we go!

Temple

No more slow starts for Notre Dame. Brian Kelly has this team on a program, and it’s working. 3 years ago ANY first game opponent made me nervous. Now, no more. I will be at this game as well, and the insane home opener 2 years ago sucked up any bad mojo for games at which I am in attendance for about a bajillion years. WHOMPING.

ND Wins 45-6

Supremely confident that BK has this team ready for the opener.

Skunkbears

The terror for ND that was Denard Robinson is over. Shoelaceless is gone, and super experienced and huge ND defensive line across from him. And, not Denard. Repeat, NOT DENARD. There will be no more Skunkbear Antics that give Notre Dame fans insane fits. Yeah, we took Shoelaceless down behind Manti Teo’s 38 interceptions last year, but that was the one time where Denard didn’t make crazy things happen to help ND pull defeat from the jaws of victory. NO MORE. Irish Chocolate and the D will have this thing super low scoring, and while our O will still be finding an identity, it will be enough.

ND Wins 17-10

Two dancers because it’s effing Skunkbears. But feeling good about a win in a slugfest.

Purdue

Aw man, Purdon’t again? It’s just so borzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The joke never gets old, because it’s true. They have the 3rd or 5th biggest drum in the world, a train, and the most boring football program in Amerizzzzzzzzz.

CAFFEINE! Must. Stay. Awake.

Purdue hasn’t made much progress despite giving us a game last year, and Hope doesn’t spring eternal. While I like the hire, it’s a pretty legit rebuild in Laughayette. I don’t see much improving for the SnoreMakers this year, and a W over ND just isn’t in the cards against this defense. The ND offense starts to click in Game 3, and ND runs away with this one, literally.

ND Wins 34-9

The Irish are looking good, off to a strong 3-0 start.

Michigan State

There will be no flag-planting for MSU. With the loss of their entire offense (Bell) and the lack of a clear answer at QB, MSU will rely on a pretty legit defense (despite the loss of Gholston). So you’ll have 2 really solid defenses lining up, and 2 less-great offenses. But ND has an edge in defensive talent with the stellar front line, and an edge on offense due to skill positions and experience at QB. MSU always comes out gunning for the Irish, and this one is Home where, for some reason, the Spartans always play better. I think this will be a nail-biter, as we can’t always play great. ND eeks it out though….

ND Wins 17-14

So up in the air. One Dancer. But we should win this game.

Oklahoma

The Sooners travel to South Bend seeking revenge for a game that no one, including me, predicted. We WHOMPED them in their own house, and revenge will be on their minds. Unfortunately for the Sooners, easier said than done. Their defensive line pretty much graduated, though it wasn’t great. Defense will be a huge question mark, as will QB after 40th year senior Jones finally graduated. Belldozer is big but can’t throw, and the other 2 QBs have thrown pretty much never as well. So a bad defense that lost a lot of experience, and an offense with a lot of talent but no clear answer at QB. Hmmmmm….should be pretty clear-cut right? I don’t think so.

Stoops is a damn good coach, and OK stocks talent. They will sort the offense out by this point in the season, and the talent on the defensive line was experienced but not top-performing. It’s going to be a bruiser. I think ND should be able to win over all, but I’m not super confident.

ND Wins 24 – 17

1 Leprechaun. Calling a win, but this could go either way.

Arizona State

Despite a relatively tough schedule compared to those teams scheduling High School squads, I have ND running 5-0 into the home-game-thats-not-at-home barnstormer at neutral site. Finally, ND has won the uniform battle. But unfortunately, I have to find a hiccup, unexpected loss in the season and I think this is it. ND will be coming off a high with a big, emotional win over OK at home. That game will be a battle, and we could come out a bit dinged up. And every team, at some point, gets caught flat. While ASU doesn’t have the most talent we’ll see, they have a pretty darn good coach and a legit QB in Taylor, and it’ll be a unique opponent for Notre Dame.

ND Drops one to go to 5-1, 24-21.

Just the 1. Obviously calling this out of nowhere.

Southern Cal

Sweet, sweet victory in the Coliseum last year, and after what felt like 40 years in a drought versus U$C and their cheaters, it finally feels like Notre Dame has the edge here again. Sanctions, poo-poo’d a few years ago by SC fans, and the hiring of freaking Lane Kiffin helped push things along in favor of the Irish. But the Trogans aren’t pushovers by any stretch. Still stocked with talent, and still hating Notre Dame every step of the way.

After a lackluster year where they turned the ball over non-stop, and never seemed to really gel as a team, USC should be ready for the Irish to WHOMP. But it won’t be that easy. New QB but a really talented group, with Lee to throw to. A pretty stout defense, especially up front. Not loving how this game feels this far in advance, but ND isn’t going to allow USC to claw their way back into the series. It’s a tight one though, a grinder with little offense for either side…

ND Wins 13-10

Not sure what to expect here. Fully believe that Kiffin sucks. But it’s USC.

Air Force

The lesser of the 2 academies we often play is always a challenge with the Triple Option, and they keep it interesting with special twists and gimmicks week to week. Smaller, but really good at what they do, Air Force racks up serious yardage with Option play, but can’t match up physically. It’ll be a bit of an adjustment for Notre Dame’s stellar defense, and I could see a decent game til half time, but Notre Dame will push through it and pull away in the 2nd half. Air Force just can’t keep up with the size, speed and depth of Notre Dame.

ND wins 37 – 17

3 Leprechauns for the pilots. (And thanks so much for your amazing service to the US of A)

Navy

2 weeks in a row of Option Ball! Well, couldn’t schedule it better, that’s for sure. ND will have 2 full weeks of option preparation before facing Navy this season, and it will help. Navy came on in ND’s down years and this became a game. Last season, things finally (FINALLY!) seemed back to normal with ND really enforcing their will on the men in the middle of the ship. Anchors may be away, but the Irish aren’t. They’re here, and ready to play. No love for the Navy offense this week as the Irish force multiple turnovers and hold Navy to less than 200 yards rushing for the only time all season. While Air Force gives ND a bit of a fit in the first half the week before, this one is in the bag by the time the band takes the field.

ND Wins 30 – 10

3 Leprechauns! No more Navy heriocs when it comes to the Irish. Save it for the battlefield fellas. (And thank you so much for your service, you guys rule)

Pitt

Genac this! As always!

Pitt’s another program that (finally) made a good hire in Chryst. Dude knows what he is doing and while Pitt will never again be a powerhouse, they’ll be competitive. They need to figure out the QB position, but they have a stable of good receivers and a couple raw but talented QBs duking it out. This was the trap game last year that is ASU for us this year. But I don’t think the Irish will let it happen again.

It’s a long season and I could see the Irish needing to rest up and heal up a bit in the 2nd half of the season, but Air Force and Navy should allow for that in the 2nd halves of those games. Pitt won’t sneak up this year.

ND Wins 24-17

2 Leprechauns. Not a landslide, and Pitt always plays their best against us.

BYU

The hornblowers simply can’t match up against Notre Dame’s red-zone defense. They will move the ball but points will be hard to come by. It’s not a gimme by any stretch but we should handle the 1 percenters.

ND Wins 26-17

1 Leprechaun for BYU. Could be one of those that make us nervous

Stanford

The damn tree.

Frankly, I’m impressed by what the post-Harbaugh staff has been able to accomplish at Stanford. Keeping recruiting going, capitalizing on the overall brand of Stanford, and sticking to a plan and executing it well. Last year’s game was one for the ages and I STILL can’t believe we held them. And yes, WE DID FREAKING HOLD THEM. Unbelievable! Still fired up about it!

But this year, Stanford will be a more complete team than Notre Dame. Both defenses will be tough, but the Tree will bring a bit more offensive firepower to the table. They’ll be playing for a BCS berth, so this is pretty much a playoff game. A 1-loss ND team against an undefeated or 1-loss Stanford team? This has BIG GAME written all over it.

Unfortunately, we won’t get those bounces this year. We can’t always get them, and last year we got plenty (after giving them ALL away the year prior). Stanford and ND will be a battle to remember. It will have national implications, and the two ‘smart football schools’ will go at it toe-to-toe. The Irish will have a chance to win it, but I see the Tree pulling this one out in some freakish way, much like ND last year.

ND Loses 24-21

1 Leprechaun – waaaaay up in the air.

Summary

Feeling like a solid 10-2 season for the Irish up front but there’s a high beta this season. 6 games I feel good about but there are a lot of 1-Dancers in here, which means we could have some hiccups along the way. I do tend to correct down so I could see 9-3 in our future as well.

And I think the entire season hinges on whether Tommy Rees 1 or Tommy Rees 2 shows up. If we have a solid, reliable game-manager in Tommy we will be 10-2 as predicted, maybe 11-1. Few errors, make the right reads, protect the ball Tommy leads to a really good BCS season for Notre Dame. If Turnover Tommy or Kick The Cop Tommy comes back? Geez, I don’t even want to think about it, but rather than dancing the leprechauns will be vomiting. 10-2 or 9-3 quickly becomes a middling 7-5 if that happens, but I don’t think it will. We have enough offensive weapons in the backfield and slot to keep some of the pressure off Tommy early in the season, and we ease into the schedule with Temple. The Big Tweleven isn’t particularly scary and they’re a big portion of the early schedule. I think Tommy will settle in, and 10-2 is a realistic result, keeping Irish Eyes smiling in ’13. BUT SCREW IT, LET’S WIN ‘EM ALL!

DANCE LEPRECHAUNS DANCE!!!

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  • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

    This is my annual dose of crack for the season. My God, I do love the leprechauns.

    Cant say I agree with you about ASU(honestly, how is everyone so high on them when they lost every single game to a decent opponent last yr and no major changes?). However, love your enthusiasm and love love love the dancing boys. Keep em comin Biz!

  • Dave

    Just freaking great. The one game I get to go to this year (ASU) and you pick em to lose. Might as well sell my tickets (wait, we don’t do that at ND) and stay at home with my head in the oven. Sweet REESUS save me.

  • http://gravatar.com/classicshmosby classicshmosby

    1) We’re gonna smoke ASU… we never lose the Shamrock Series games and they’re soft and overrated.
    2) I think we lose to OU, Stanford, and one or two of USC/Mich/Mich St/BYU to go 9-3, and then we win the Champs Sports Bowl to round out a solid campaign. Losing all these young guys with potential (Lynch last year, plus Neal, Vanderdoes, Ferguson, and now Hood) plus Golson and Spond will hurt depth though.

  • Bayou Irish

    classicshmosby: I agree that we’re going to beat ASU, but then you go off the rails. Hood is slated to be in high school when we play our games this season. Vanderdoes may or may not have seen the field. The loss of Spond, I don’t think, will hurt, as Jaylon Smith will get in now and he’ll more than pull his weight by the time we get MSU. Losing Lynch hurts, but only in a hypothetical way. We didn’t have him last year either. Golson’s been dealt with — if Tommy tanks, it’s Rumble in the Jungle time with Zaire.

  • Tim Thilman

    All this talk about ASU confuses me. I can’t buy into them, but do see the “trap”.
    Love the analysis and the “Jiggers”!
    10-2 is my optimistic prediction with an awful lot on T.R.
    Beat skunkbears and U-SCum and I can even tolerate 3 losses.
    Offense is key

  • dermmite

    If the O-line is as good as advertised by the coaching staff then lets just pound the ball 50 times a game and not worry about putting the game in Tommy’s hands. But if we have to I do recall him playing pretty good last year in his particular role of savior. My prediction is 11-1

  • http://www.marionorthodontics.com DagerOne

    I hope you’re right, but I still have flashbacks of Tulsa. :(

    Until I’ve seen consistent, intelligent play from Rees, I can’t convince myself of anything better than 8 wins this season. And I don’t think Kelly is ready to turn the reins over to Zaire unless Rees gets hurt. Like Tim up there said, though, if we beat the skunkbears and the cheating bastards from the west coast, I’ll sleep okay.

  • http://www.revolutionhomegymreview.com/ George

    Oh well, this will be a great prediction for many people who loved Leprechauns. But, it is still best to watch the game and see how long will your prediction goes.

  • http://gravatar.com/denverirish DenverIrish

    Always love this article to start the season. I picked the same wins and losses as you, so I definitely think your reasoning is spot on! It’s not that ASU is so great, it’s the timing of the game and playing a totally different conference (I don’t think we play many teams with their style of offense, but this is said entirely without research), a coach who has a proclivity for getting some good trick plays in. They have the skill to take advantage of us coming out flat, unlike BYU. BK has been great about adjusting things each year for game-day to try make sure the team is ready. We had a few too many close ones at home last year even though we scraped by, so I am betting he has figured out this year how to get the team fired up at home and that is the next step we see the team take this year.

  • SCHoosier53

    What’s up with giving up 17 or more points in so many games? Last time I looked our D is pretty stout.

  • http://here.com The Biscuit

    SCHoosier, I think for me this reflects a pretty stout defense. Only a couple games over 20 points and most are 17 or less. That’s pretty darn good.

    And the 17 point games (3 of them at least) come at the end of the season where I figure we may have some depth issues on D.

    But with these scores, we’d still end up being a top tier D

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