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2012 Team Previews: Notre Dame with One Foot Down

We’re previewing the college football season with help from SBNation.com. Today, One Foot Down dissects the Fighting Irish.

If Notre Dame wants to return to the BCS, it will have to weather a brutally difficult schedule. Of its five ranked opponents, three are pre-season top-ten teams, including No. 8 Michigan, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 1 USC. The Irish must also face off with No. 13 Michigan State and No. 21 Stanford.

2011 Record: 8-5

2011 Bowl: Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State

2012 Bowl Projections:

Orlando Bowl History

1994 Regular season vs. Florida State, 16-23
2011 Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State, 14-18

Q&A with One Foot Down

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Turn. Over. Notre Dame boasted an impressive -15 turnover ratio last season with the offense giving up 29 and the defense only forcing 14. To make matters worse some of those offensive turnovers were of the truly spectacular variety. Notre Dame had fumbles inside the opponent's 5 yard line that went the other way for touchdowns in losses against South Florida and USC. Against Michigan quarterback Tommy Rees inexplicably dropped the ball while trying to throw what would have been a game icing touchdown pass to a wide open Tyler Eifert. Michigan came back to win. It wasn't pretty and turnovers were a definite factor in all 5 Notre Dame losses.

If you had to pin the Champs Sports Bowl loss on one factor, what would it be?

Wait for it... turnovers! More specifically interceptions. Tommy Rees threw his first interception of the game on the Florida State goal line in the first quarter. On that one Rees got immediately bailed out by his defense when Manti Te'o forced a fumble that was returned by Zeke Motta 29 yards for a touchdown. Then early in the 4th quarter Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix was on in relief and threw an interception deep in his own territory that set Florida State up with a very short field for the go-ahead touchdown. Then with just over 3 minutes to play Notre Dame drove deep into Florida State territory. They still had a chance and Tommy Rees was back under center. Fittingly the Notre Dame quarterback threw an interception into the endzone.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

I would call it a toss up between road trips to Oklahoma and USC. Both teams are preseason Top 5 and have a lot of talent on both sides of the football.

Which of the four quarterbacks is most likely to be starting at the end of the year in Los Angeles?

I will go with the popular vote and say redshirt freshman Everett Golson. Golson has all of the physical tools necessary to be extremely successful in Brian Kelly's offense. With incumbent starter Tommy Rees suspended for the opener against Navy I expect Golson to emerge as the starter for that game. If he plays well on September 1st he could be very difficult to unseat as the starter.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

Best case would be a return to the BCS. That would be a major step forward for the program in Brian Kelly's 3rd season, especially against what many consider to be the toughest schedule in the country. Worst case scenario would be to not go bowling at all. That would mean that Notre Dame had a truly terrible season and will put the program right back into that all too familiar position of having a coach on the hot seat.

About The Author

Jared Gallagher
Jared Gallagher