Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 126 of 127

THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI T he end of spring football drills this April transformed into instant predictions by the middle of May. Athlon projected Notre Dame as its preseason No. 8 team, while other out‑ lets such as ESPN with Mark Schla‑ bach (No. 9), FOX Sports with Bruce Feldman (No. 10) and Stewart Mandel (No. 13) didn't have the Fighting Irish too far behind. That's relatively complimentary to a program that lost seven players who were selected in the top 103 of the NFL Draft at the end of April. The only two programs that had a higher vol‑ ume through the first three rounds this year than Notre Dame's six were 2014 national cham‑ pion Ohio State (10) and 2015 titlist Alabama (seven). Fortunately, the Fighting Irish re‑ cruiting has been consistent enough — top‑10 to top‑15 quality — where it can absorb such attrition and maybe consistently post 10 or more wins per season. According to esteemed analyst Bill Connelly — the author of Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories — head coach Brian Kelly's 2016 Irish project to be favored in every game ex‑ cept the regular‑season finale at USC (41 percent chance to win). Three of the toughest four contests come on the road: • At USC — 41 percent • At Texas — 59 percent • Stanford — 61 percent • At North Carolina State — 63 percent That doesn't mean Notre Dame will finish 11‑1. The law of probability says even if you have a 75 percent chance of winning a contest, then on average you would lose one out of every four tries to that opponent. There are about a dozen "programs" in college football, which we define as operations that average a minimum of 10 wins over a five‑year period: Ala‑ bama, Ohio State, Florida State, Okla‑ homa, Clemson, Stanford, Oregon, Michigan State, LSU, TCU, Baylor and Boise State to a lesser extent because the Broncos aren't among the Power Five conferences. Just because you beat those foes like Notre Dame has over the years (at Oklahoma in 2012, three straight versus Michigan State, LSU in 2014, Ten Victories Is The Minimum Benchmark Texas is a rebuilding operation, but the season opener in Austin Sept. 4 could be a snake pit for the Irish. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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