The Numbers Game

IrishEyes' (barely) scientific breakdown of the 2010 season.

If you prefer the written word (or just something coherent), simply click here for our detailed 2010 Season Prediction.

But if you believe that numbers, past results and yes, intangibles, dictate future performance: A.) You're probably wrong and B.) this column is for you.

Offensive Projection

All numbers following the "plus" and "minuses" indicate the number of wins to add/subtract in that category:
  • First-time starting QB: Minus 1 win
  • Four backup QBs with nary an FBS snap to their credit: Minus 5 wins
  • Brian Kelly's recent success regardless of the QB: Plus 10 wins
  • No Huddle Spread Offense: Plus 1 Win
  • Kelly's red zone success: Plus 3 wins
  • Charley Molnar as the daily offensive coordinator: Plus 1 win
  • Underdeveloped talent on the offense waiting to break out: Plus 5 wins
  • Two new starting tackles and four tackles with zero career starts: Minus 4 wins
  • One new starting tackle that couldn't beat out last year's tackles: Minus 5 wins
  • Baseless logic that the O-Line simply can't be as bad as it was over the last three seasons: Plus 1 win
  • Cierre Wood: Plus 1 win
  • Passes thrown inside the hash marks (unlike 2008/2009): Plus 3 wins
  • No Golden Tate: Minus 10 wins
  • Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph: Plus 10 wins
  • Fact that Floyd/Rudolph have missed 12 total games in their 2-year careers: Minus 4 wins.
  • Jimmy Clausen's arm and accuracy removed from the equation: Minus 5 wins
  • Clausen's 16-18 career W/L record removed from the equation: Can't quantify…

Final Win Total Due to the Offense: 1

Defensive Projections

Same formula, bigger number swings:
  • Underdeveloped talent on defense waiting to breakout: Plus 10
  • November 2008: Minus 20
  • November 2009: Minus 30
  • New Defensive Coordinator: Plus 5
  • Fact that there's just one Defensive Coordinator: Plus 25
  • Two seniors and four juniors among top six D-Linemen: Plus 5
  • Fact that those six played vs. Navy, Pitt, Connecticut and Stanford last year: Minus 10
  • Te'o one-year older: Plus 5
  • Darrin Walls rediscovering 2007: Plus 3
  • Robert Blanton rediscovering 2008: Plus 5
  • Harrison Smith learning from past mistakes: Plus 1
  • Jamoris Slaughter starting: Plus 2
  • Brian Smith outside rather than inside: Plus 10
  • Kerry Neal winning a starting job under a new head coach: Plus 2
  • Darius Fleming: Plus 5
  • Last November's game film for each of the 11 starters for this fall: Minus 17

Final Win Total Due to the Defense: 1


Less scientific (if that's possible), but the same system applies.
  • No player on the roster has won two more games than he's lost in an Irish uniform: Minus 10
  • Fact that I saw one team, and thus have no basis of comparison, in spring and August practice: Minus 5
  • ND's performance over the last 15 year: Minus 5
  • Lack of a home field advantage: Minus 10
  • Navy, Air Force, Syracuse, Navy, Connecticut: Minus 10
  • Sobering fact that just two ND players (Chris Stewart and Barry Gallup) were alive when ND last won a national title: Minus 10
  • Fact that Big East football teams haven't lost in South Bend since 2005: Minus 10
  • Contrary fact that Brian Kelly, by his own observation: "Did pretty well vs. the Big East": Plus 20
  • History of Year One coaching success at ND: Plus 20
  • New attitude and outlook that permeates the program: Plus 20

Intangible's Point Total: 0 advantage gained.


Game-by-game with all factors (talent, timing, location, history, etc.) included:
  • Purdue: Plus 10
  • Michigan: Minus 5
  • Michigan State: Minus 20
  • Stanford: Plus 1
  • Boston College: Minus 10
  • Pittsburgh: Minus 2
  • Western Michigan: Plus 20
  • Tulsa: Plus 10
  • Navy: Plus 1
  • Utah: Minus 10
  • Army: Plus 20
  • USC: -8

Final Win Total due to schedule: +7 wins

Opposing Coaches

In this case, each "plus" is bad for ND…
  • Timeout Danny Hope: Minus 1
  • Rich Rodriguez: Minus 20
  • Mark Dantonio: Plus 10
  • Jim Harbaugh: Plus 10
  • Frank Spaziani: Plus 10. Frank Spaziani in a post-game press conference: Plus 15 (Not applicable to formula)
  • Dave Wannstedt: Minus 1
  • Bill Cubit: Plus 5
  • Todd Graham: Even
  • Ken Niumatalolo: Plus 20. Fact that Corwin Brown isn't around for Navy Week: Minus 500 (Not applicable to formula)…
  • Kyle Whittingham: Plus 10
  • Rich Ellerson: Plus 10
  • Young Lane: Minus 50

Opposing Coaches' Point Tally: Minus 3 wins

The Deciding Factors

With 6 wins heading into the final category, the Irish will need a few unknowns to go their way in order to ensure a successful 2010.
  • Fact that you're getting your ND football info from someone who grew up in South Bend that's an ND Grad: Minus 15
  • Fact that I'm bitter and jaded over the last 16 seasons and compare every current team to the late 80s and early 90s: Plus 15
  • Fact that I actually wanted to fight someone who told me after 2007 that a certain senior linebacker would be, "Better than Stonebreaker": Plus 1 (at least).
  • Fact that he was laughably wrong: 0 points gained or lost for this particular column…
  • Fact that I wrote this at lunch: Plus 10
  • Fact that it's an unplanned column and now I'm two hours behind heading into Game Week: Minus 10
  • Hunger of a an Irish roster "sick and tired of being sick and tired": Plus 1
  • Brian Kelly: Plus 1

Final Win Tally for 2010: 9

Fact that 9-3 finally won't be good enough in 2011: Can't Quantify … Top Stories