Top reason not to worry about Saturday's final score: Notre Dame's best team of the last 20 years, the 1993 national runner-up, won just 27-12 as 29-point favorites over Northwestern (3-8 that season) in South Bend. One week later, the Irish ran out to a 27-10 lead at #3 Michigan, winning 27-23 as 9-point underdogs in Ann Arbor, finishing 11-1 while being robbed of a chance to play for the national championship.
Top two reasons to worry about how the Irish look Saturday: The team's two worst opening day performances in recent memory -- 2011 and 2007 -- offered portents for the season. In 2011, the Irish committed five turnovers and not much changed thereafter as a turnover-ridden team committed 29 miscues en route to a five-loss season of frustration.
In 2007, Notre Dame struggled to gain positive yardage in a 33-3 dismantling at the hands of Georgia Tech. Not much changed over the next three months en route to a stunning 3-9 finish.
Top reason not to use Week Two as your Irish barometer: Purdue laid waste to Notre Dame's interior line last September, holding the Irish to 52 rushing yards on 36 carries and sacked Everett Golson five times. Thereafter, the running game was the team's definitive strength and Golson was sacked 11 more times in the 11 games that followed.
In other words, we have no idea.
Opening Week Roster TidbitsNotre Dame suffered its share of camp casualties this fall. In addition to the retirement of starting drop linebacker Danny Spond, three players were lost to the season due to injury: Tony Springmann (knee), Nicky Baratti (shoulder), and freshman linebacker Doug Randolph (shoulder).
Additionally, 2010 early enrollee Chris Badger transferred to BYU. Badger was behind the eight-ball facing athletically superior position players, and after a two-year religious mission to Ecuador and return to the team for its 2012 championship run, the fourth-string safety ultimately left to be closer to an ailing family member.
Out Saturday but expected to return soon is redshirt-freshman running back Will Mahone (high ankle sprain). Mahone impressed the staff with his ball skills as a slot option in camp.
Sophomore Ronnie Stanley will start at right tackle, cleared after missing time with a concussion during camp's final week.
-- Two position switches were a topic of conversation Thursday night, both from the secondary to Mike Denbrock's wide receivers corps, one in the spring, and one midway through August camp:
Said head coach Brian Kelly of 2012 backup cornerback Josh Atkinson's move to receiver: "You use "experiment." He's gonna take time. (But) the guy can fly. He's fast as heck. He can run. It's gonna take us a little time. We want to keep his skills as a DB, but we also think that we can…there's a lot of DB's that can play but I want to try and find a place to get him on the field. I think we can find some roles for the kid. It's gonna take us some time to get on the field offensively.
"We're trying to get some routes that he can handle. He's got to catch the ball more consistently That's what he has to work on right now. But he is all-in in trying to do that.. It's gonna take us some time to do it. I don't know when it's gonna be but we're all-in and it's gonna take some time."
Notably absent from the opening two-deep depth chart was spring star C.J. Prosise.
"C.J'.s been steady for us. We're gonna do some specific things. He's not going to be that guy like Robby Toma," said Kelly. "Robby was on the field a lot for us. He's not going to fit in like Robby did. He's gonna do different jobs. He's gonna do them well for us. But he's not going to be an A-to-Z slot receiver like Robby was."
Week One WinnersFor readers that like to play the proverbial ponies (and for informational purposes only, mind you), here are a few of interest to Irish fans:
- Take Alabama -22 over Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome...
- Take Purdue +10.5 at Cincinnati…
- Take BYU +1.5 at Virginia
- Take FSU -11.5 at Pittsburgh (Monday Night)