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That light Irish schedule? Not so much

Dec 8, 2010, 1:05 PM EDT

Getty Images - Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

One of the dangers of judging a schedule in the preseason is painting a slate of games with a brush when the canvas is unknown. Entering the 2010 season, many projected a good season for the Irish if they could make it through their opening six games, with the schedule lightening drastically in the middle before two hard tests in the final three games.

Well, the Irish went through the season in a fashion just about nobody could have predicted. And that schedule that seemed both top and bottom heavy with a soft midsection? That didn’t turn out to be too true either.

How tough was the Irish’s schedule? Consider that the NCAA just released their rankings and they deemed the Irish’s slate of games as the toughest in the country, with Irish opponents putting together a .650 winning percentage, and all but Purdue winning enough games to qualify for a bowl game. (USC will be sitting the bowl season out instead of playing in the Holiday Bowl because of NCAA sanctions.)

Even if you take out the rudimentary formula the NCAA uses to rank schedules, our friend Anthony Pilcher of ranks the Irish schedule as the toughest in the country, ahead of Oregon State, UNLV, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

Let this be just a small lesson for those that chastise or ordain a schedule before the games are actually played. Not that it’ll matter as the pundits discuss 2011, but just reminding everybody while it’s fresh in our minds.


  1. bradwins - Dec 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    One thing I don’t understand about my fellow Irish fans is the constant complaining about the schedule. I do understand the desire to see good teams and, to a certain extent, the idea that the Irish are too storied of a program to share the field with certain teams (i.e. Tulsa). But where is that approach going to get you, realistically? 9-3, 10-2 in good years? Look at some of the schwag scheduled by the National Championship contenders. Auburn played Arkansas State, Chattanooga and Louisiana Monroe. Oregon played New Mexico and Portland State. The reality is that you can’t expect your team to beat 12 teams that all rank between good and great without a slip up. If all other teams were trying to run a gauntlet, too, then maybe you would have a case for it because you could win a Nat’l title with a loss or even two. But in today’s college football world you have to give yourself some easy wins to allow you to be be in the best physical and mental condition to win the really, really big games.

    I’m excited about the 2012 schedule, for instance, but I am already resigned to the fact that we probably have no shot of getting through that minefield unblemished. So even if this program progresses at the rate we all hope we are still at least 3 or 4 years away from a legit chance for national championship.

  2. tradertrik - Dec 8, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Well, so much for some of the comments I’ve read about the BCS National Championship game with the SEC saying they play the toughest schedules week in and week out. Each SEC team plays at least two, if not more, “gimmies” during their schedules, as do most conference teams. If you’re gonna be the best, then play the best.

    I remember the ’88 season and it was one tough game after another. Same for ’89. Every week was a big dog, with the exception of Navy, at the time. In ’88 even Air Force was undefeated when we played there. They weren’t when the Irish left. Just for conversations sake, if ND (especially the defense) improves at the same rate as they are starting to now, who’s to say we won’t be undefeated in 2012? How funny would that be – we are undefeated and the world comes to an end. Nah, you’ll know when it comes to an end. It will be the day after I won the lottery………….and took the annuity option.

  3. papadec - Dec 8, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Put the points on the board – and take the lump sum option.

  4. dochrd - Dec 9, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    Great post, Keith. This is my go-to space for the latest Irish news, and I hadn’t seen the NCAA report on toughest schedules. Some good water cooler info for the defense of the Irish!

  5. tooz72 - Dec 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    everyone rags on the Irish about their schedule but every single team in the BCS plays patsies throughout their schedule but no one is laughed at more than ND.. it’s a joke.. look at Ohio St and Penn St every year, their first 4-5 games are against jokes but no one says a word.. hypocrites

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