Schedule and Odds
Notre Dame took a nosedive in the second half of last season as the Fighting Irish lost five of their final six Games before beating LSU in the Music City Bowl. With no more questions at quarterback as Everett Golson is gone, Notre Dame returns enough starters to be a playoff contender. However, their odds are still off the pace a bit and they only have the 12th-best chance at +3200 to make the Championship Game as seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Malik Zaire steps in as the starting quarterback after taking over for Golson late last year, including a start in the bowl Game where he went 12-of-15 through the air and rushed for 96 yards with two total touchdowns. Whatever Zaire lacks in experience will be made up for in other areas as Notre Dame has one of the top offensive lines in the nation with Four returning starters from a group that handled LSU in the bowl Game.
In addition, the offense has top playmakers returning in running backs Tarean Folston (889 yards) and Greg Bryant along with wide receiver William Fuller (1,094 yards, 15 TDs). C.J. Prosise is also expected to see a bigger role after breaking through in the spring and he’ll line up at a number of positions.
That said, the Irish’s offense wasn’t a huge issue in 2014 (outside of Golson’s interception problem). It was the defensive side that struggled late in the season as they allowed more than 40 points per Game in the final seven of the season. The good news is that 10 starters return from that group and they get back cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who was suspended last year. A second year in Brian VanGorder’s defense should help a bunch even if they have a hole at middle linebacker. If the Irish can figure out how to pressure the opposing team’s QB this year, that’ll push them another level beyond last year’s performance.
Notre Dame’s Schedule is tough as usual, but might not be as daunting as previous seasons, especially with only five true road Games (they play BC at Fenway). Getting past early home tests against Texas and Georgia Tech will be important as they start October with a road Game at Clemson. Their only other road Game against a possible Top 25 team is at Stanford in the season finale. The Irish would also like some revenge on USC after they were creamed out on the west coast in 2014.
The Fighting Irish collapsed after losing dramatically at Florida State last year, but they were a solid team that finished 8-5. With an over/under set at 9 wins (regular season only at 5Dimes), there’s no reason they can’t hit that mark. Notre Dame has the players returning to once again be a Top 10 team in the country.
2015 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Texas
Sept. 12 at Virginia
Sept. 19 vs. Georgia Tech
Sept. 26 vs. UMass
Oct. 3 at Clemson
Oct. 10 vs. Navy
Oct. 17 vs. USC
Oct. 31 at Temple
Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 14 vs. Wake Forest
Nov. 21 vs. Boston College (Fenway Park)
Nov. 28 at Stanford