Prediction #13: Dayne Crist will accrue the 5th highest passing TD total in school history this fallBefore you cry homer, check out the single-season honor roll below:
- Brady Quinn: 37 in 2006
- Brady Quinn: 32 in 2005
- Jimmy Clausen: 28 in 2009
- Jimmy Clausen: 25 in 2008
- Ron Powlus: 19 in 1994
- Rick Mirer: 18 in 1991
- Jarious Jackson: 17 in 1999
- Brady Quinn: 17 in 2004
- Joe Theismann, John Huarte, Bob Williams and Rick Mirer: 16 in 1970, 1964, 1949 and 1992, respectively.
Crist needs 20 TD in 12 regular season games to pass Powlus for fifth-place. In other words, with today's emphasis on the pass and Brian Kelly's QB-friendly scheme, Crist should have little trouble reaching the number should he remain upright for three months.
A greater accomplishment is contained within the prediction: With 20-plus TD passes, Crist would set a program record for first-year starting Qbs (passing Powlus).
I don't think Crist will pass Clausen's 2009 total of 28 TD tosses (remember, Irish running backs rushed for just 11 TD last season), but his predecessor's 2008 total could be in jeopardy.
Prediction #14: The Irish will drop a home game for the 12th consecutive seasonHey man, don't shoot the messenger.
The Irish have escaped a home slate without a loss just once since the program's 19-game home winning streak ended in an upset loss to Stanford in 1990. (Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 at the time.)
The past decade has seen a sobering 24 teams waltz out of the House that Rockne built with victories in the last 63 home matchups; 14 of them unranked.
The span included a three-game losing streak (2003) a six-game South Bend losing skid (2007) and a five-game losing streak stretched over two seasons with two different head coaches (2004-05). Six of the last seven seasons have included at least two home defeats as have 8 of 11 since the Irish last finished a home set unblemished in 1998.
Focused singularly on this team, I think the Irish have a better than 50 percent chance of finishing 7-0 at home this season, but you know what they say about those who forget the past...
Reviewing the home wreckers: A look at each of Notre Dame's seven home matchups this fall and my quick handicap of history repeating.
- Purdue (September 4 season opener): I'm on record stating the Irish will bury the Boilers, a program that's left South Bend with a win once since 1974. Then again, what do I know, I thought ND would have trouble with Nevada in last September's opener.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: Eh...10 percent. Who the (heck) is Purdue?
- Michigan (September 11 – Game 2): As confident as I am the Irish will vanquish Purdue; I'm equally uneasy that the Wolverines will play their best contest of the season against the still-developing Dayne Crist and the new look Irish defense. Wolverines QB Tate Forcier looked like a cross between Michael Vick and Jeff Garcia in last year's matchup between the teams. The good news is he looked like Tate Forcier the rest of the season.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 25 percent. I hope I'm completely off base.
- Stanford (September 25 – Game 4): I'll be more worried about the Cardinal if the Irish are able to leave East Lansing with a victory the week prior – one that would put them on the national radar and test the team's focus after a modicum of success.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 40 percent if the Irish are 3-0 (Stanford is a fringe top 25 team). Less if ND comes home looking to rebound from a tough loss.
- Pittsburgh (October 9 – Game 6): It's consecutive BCS conference matchup No. 6. for Notre Dame. The Irish will have an identity by this point, but Game Six is a toss-up regardless of either team's record entering the contest.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 50 percent. RB Dion Lewis and WR Jonathan Baldwin, plus a solid defense and the Pitt program's familiarity with Brian Kelly and ND personnel make this a tough matchup.
- Western Michigan (October 16 – Game Seven) Let's hope not...
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 1 percent. Of course, I didn't think Air Force would beat ND by 17 in South Bend entering the 2007 season, either.
- Tulsa (October 23 – Game Eight): There's a bit of a trap factor here as Notre Dame fans are a spoiled group, genearlly in need of a reason to make noise. I can promise you the Irish crowd won't be up for this contest unless one of the teams has a single loss or fewer. As well, Tulsa is two years removed from averaging 47 points per game. Seriously.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 15 percent. I'm more wary of this matchup than the opener vs. Purdue, though national perception would be worse if Notre Dame lost its first matchup with the Golden Hurricane than against the rival Boilermakers.
- Utah (November 7 – Game Ten): Utah will be covered in greater detail in my final pre-season prediction. Suffice it to say...Yuck.
O'Malley's odds of a slip-up: 55 percent. Senior Day is bad news in South Bend, though at least Utah's not in the Big East.
Is the glass half empty for Prediction No. 14? Sure...now its time for the new regime to prove me wrong.