Summer football is about to start at Culver Academy. That means prognostication of picking games and their end results. Shake Down The Thunder Sports and Wake Up The Echoes sit down and discuss the upcoming season. We will cover the season in two articles. The first article will get you through the “bye week”, and the second article will pick up at the Navy game through the season finale at USC.
Representing Wake Up The Echoes is Brandon Micheal Rhodes and Jason Sipe. Brandon and Jason spoke to some former Irish players and will have some quotes to share. Representing Shake Down The Thunder Sports is Jimmy Grant and myself, George Bashura. We will break down the games. The games will have nothing to with Vegas odds. The picks are straight up from a final score. Get comfy and lets venture into the 2018 season prognostication discussion.
Michigan at ND 9/1/18
Jimmy-“Pandora’s box could be opened for Harbaugh if Michigan loses the season opener. Michigan has 17 returning starters, Michigan brought Harbaugh in to return them to greatness. This is a make or break season as he is not delivering what Michigan expected. This game is a great resume builder for both teams win or lose. Depending on how each finishes in the final standings. ” ND wins in OT 20-17.
George-“Michigan vs ND is more of a fan rival game, than it is a team vs team rivalry. The last time these two teams played ND won 31-0 at ND. Statistics can’t even come into play in this game. Two completely different teams will be on the field. There is no way to compare the two teams. Focus is the key to this game. This will test the team as to how they can handle a prime time match-up with a lot on the line, in the first game of the season.” ND wins 31-24.
Brandon-“I spoke with 2012 grad Robby Toma and he said “I am excited that we open with Michigan. The first game of the new year is so important and there is no better way to start out the year with a renewed rivalry as well as a win.”
Ball State at ND 9/8/18
Jimmy-“Ball State is coming off a 2-10 season. Ball State is returning 16 starters. No disrespect, but this is a game 1 match-up instead of a game 2. ND wins this one by bunch and improve to 2-0.” ND 42-10
George-“The offense and defense of ND is too talented to let Ball State into this game. There is a chance to get some young guys a chance to play. A new rule passed this year allows “red shirt” players to play in four games and not lose their red shirt status. Phil Jurkovec could see playing time in this one.” ND wins 37-14.
Vanderbilt at ND 9/15/18
Jimmy-“Vandy is coming off a 5-7 season. Vandy may come into Notre Dame with 2-0 record. If that is true, then over confidence could be a factor. Confidence is good, but over confidence can beat you.” ND wins 35-17.
George-“A few weeks back Derek Mason, Head Coach of Vandy was asked a question by ASAP Sports ” You’re going to have a pretty early tough test early on with the trip to South Bend. How are you preparing your players for a trip to a location like that against a likely top-15 team?” Derek Mason: yeah we play in the SEC. I don’t worry about going to South Bend. Right now, I am worried about MTSU. I looked at how we started last year, and the blueprint is there. If you want to be successful, stay in the moment. That’s exactly what we are doing.” ND fans saw this as locker room fodder. And social media went crazy. Vandy will have their work cut out for them the week before this game.” ND wins 28-21.
ND at Wake Forest 9/22/18
Jimmy-“Wake has played ND tough on the road, now they get them at home. Wake returns 14 players and a new QB at the helm. There is a sense to worry about ND looking ahead to Stanford. Last year, ND showed signs of looking ahead to Miami. Praying for dry weather.” ND wins 31-27.
George-“I hope I am on business trip that week in the Raleigh-Durham area. Every time the last couple years ND has played in N.C. area it has been a downpour or a hurricane. ND is more than due for a chance to play in dry weather. A chance to throw a pass in good weather is what I expect to see. This will be a game won in the air.” ND wins 36-21.
Stanford at ND 9/29/18
Jimmy-“Coming off a 9-5 season, a down year for Stanford. Stanford is returning 15 starters including RB Bryce Love. Love may be a Heisman contender. Can ND stop the run? This game has the possibility of a nail biter. The Irish are at home.” ND wins 32-29.
George-“ND and Stanford is always a classic. Two great educational institutions and football teams that are definite rivals. These two teams also play for a “rivalry trophy”. The “Legends Trophy” will be back in Notre Dame Stadium. It will be time to right the wrong for last seasons loss to Stanford. The loss to Stanford also kept ND out of the playoffs.” ND wins 28-24.
ND at Virginia Tech 10/6/18
Jimmy-“This is a tough game if it’s a night game in Blacksburg. VT was 9-4 last season. They also have had some off-season issues. They are returning 12 starters and are very young at the skill positions. There is a major overhaul on defense as well.” ND wins 31-24.
George-“This is a game ND can lose if they don’t focus and pay attention. There is no taking VT for granted. If this is a night game, the scene will be set for an interestingly noisy venue in Blacksburg.” ND wins 34-17.
Pitt at ND 10/13/18
Jimmy-“This is my most concerning game. Pitt is a blue-collar team with a blue-collar coach. Pat Narduzzi is their Head Coach and former Defensive Coordinator for Michigan State. Pitt returns 9 starters on defense. Narduzzi is very confident about being under the radar. This is a vengeance game for Narduzzi. As ND stopped Michigan State from playing for a chance for a National Championship in 2013”. Pitt wins a heart breaker 28-27.
George-“Pitt is just one of those teams. Blue collar, they will leave it all on the field. Pitt will play like it’s their National Championship game. Pitt wants to play spoiler, but not this time.” ND wins 42-27.
First Half Forecast Records
Tuesday will be the wrap up of the season. Will George give ND a loss during the second half of the season? You will have to wait patiently until tomorrow and see. Until then, Cheers and Go Irish!