Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2017

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

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www.BLUEANDGOLD.com JUNE/JULY 2017 39 2. at STANFORD (10-3), Nov. 25 2016 Summary: The 25-23 win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl re- sulted in a No. 12 AP finish. The Car- dinal is 76-18 (.809 winning percent- age) since 2010, and 64-17 (.790) under head coach David Shaw. The only four other teams in college football to post a minimum of 10 wins six of the last seven campaigns are Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma. 2017 Outlook: The Cardinal, No. 16 in ESPN's preseason poll, re- turns eight starters on offense and eight more on defense. They are also 6-2 versus the Irish in the last eight meetings, with a 17-10 win last year. Perceived Strengths: Stanford's identity in the last decade has been forged on physicality on both sides of the ball, led by defensive tackle Har- rison Phillips (6.5 sacks last year). Cornerback Quenton Meeks (50-yard interception return for TD at Notre Dame) spearheads a veteran second- ary, while running back Bryce Love rushed for 129 yards against the Irish in place of injured Christian McCaffrey. Perceived Concerns: QB Keller Chryst suffered a torn ACL in the bowl win and is in the recovery stages. A challenging conference slate includes road games at USC, Utah, Oregon and Washington State. 1. USC (10-3), Oct. 21 2016 Summary: After a 1-3 start that began with the 52-6 slaughter versus Alabama, the Trojans won their final nine games, highlighted by winning at College Football Playoff participant Washington and a 52-49 shootout ver- sus Penn State in the Rose Bowl, to finish a surprising No. 3. 2017 Outlook: Although only five starters return on offense and seven on defense, USC is a consensus pre- season top-five selection (No. 4 by ESPN) expected to vie for the College Football Playoff. Perceived Strengths: The return of quarterback Sam Darnold, a popu- lar preseason Heisman pick, and a powerful and now more seasoned junior class — ranked No. 1 by Ri- vals in 2015 — headline the team. Running back Ronald Jones II (1,082 yards rushing, 6.1 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns last year) is back, and wideout Deontay Burnett had 13 catches for 164 yards and three scores in the Rose Bowl. Perceived Concerns: The offensive line has to replace three starters, plus top playmakers in cornerback/return man Adoree' Jackson and wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster turned pro early. Notre Dame will have its usual bye be- fore hosting the Trojans, and the Irish have won the last two meetings at home versus USC. The Trojans do not have a bye throughout the season. ✦ Running back Bryce Love rushed for 129 yards to help Stanford register a 17-10 victory at Notre Dame last season, the Cardinal's sixth win versus the Irish in their last eight meetings. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL Notre Dame Rates Well In The ESPN Football Power Index If football games could be played on paper, chances are Notre Dame would be a perennial top-10 team and bona fide College Football Playoff contender. Last year, the preseason No. 10 Fighting Irish with a "favorable" sched- ule were projected to post back-to-back 10- win seasons for the first time since 1992-93. This year, despite coming off a 4-8 melt- down, ESPN's Football Power Index still has Notre Dame winning 10 of its 12 regular-sea- son contests — with road losses to Miami and Stanford in November — based on myriad factors too extensive to list. However, according to 10 years of Massey Consensus data from 2006-15, teams ranked in the top-15 range win only 80 percent of their Football Bowl Subdivision games. Per Brian Fremeau of ESPN/Football Outsiders, they win only 23 percent of the time against a top-five opponent, 50 percent against another top-15 foe and 76 percent versus a top-30 adversary. Without upsets, sports would be quite dull. Here is ESPN's FPI in May 2017 with Notre Dame's percentage chance of winning: Date Opponent %To Win Sept. 2 Temple 94.5 Sept. 9 Georgia 51.2 Sept. 16 at Boston College 80.5 Sept. 23 at Michigan State 71.9 Sept. 30 Miami (Ohio) 93.7 Oct. 7 at North Carolina 57.9 Oct. 21 USC 56.8 Oct. 28 North Carolina State 57.8 Nov. 4 Wake Forest 84.6 Nov. 11 at Miami 35.1 Nov. 18 Navy 89.7 Nov. 25 at Stanford 27.0

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