It’s time once again for our annual prognostication pre-season pick’em. With Team 131 deep into Fall training camp, the start to the season is right around the corner. With no QB controversy, Ian Book is slated to be your game one starter against Louisville. Your team Captain’s have been selected and they are leading the charge on the field. Off the field the players are bonding as a unit and that is a healthy situation to have.
Once again, Jimmy Grant and I sat down and we looked at the schedule to see what the team has in front of them. This year, the Fightin’ Irish have two bye weeks, five road games and that leaves seven home games. There is no Shamrock Series game this year, an extra home game is great for those that love the stadium game.
This article is the first of two in the series. The first article will take our picks from Louisville through USC. Article two will pick after the bye week at week eight, and resume with Michigan through Stanford, bookend road games. There is much to discuss including the return of Bob Davie to Notre Dame and the return of Brian VanGorder “BVG” as the Defensive Coordinator with Bowling Green. We highlighted both of the former coaches a few weeks ago. Attached is a link to that article.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports would like to thank our friend and fabulous artist Kathleen Keifer. Kathleen gave us permission to use her artwork as the featured image. You can check out her amazing work at http://www.kathleenkeifer.com
Week One/Game One: Notre Dame At Louisville
One of the interesting things to start this one off is that VanGorder is no longer the Defensive Coordinator for the Cardinals. Their is a new regime in place at Louisville as the look to turn their team around. Jimmy will kick off with his analysis.
Louisville is predicted to at the bottom of their conference this year. Though they will be good soon. They are returning 17 starters, after going 2-10 last season. Last year they opened against Alabama and this year their schedule is tough as the start against the Irish. Scott Satterfield is the new Head Coach. He leaves Appalachian State a D1-AA school to take the reigns of the Cardinals. Coach Satterfield is definitely a coach that can win.
Jimmy chooses ND 45-20
I have the same thoughts as Jimmy as far as the current state of Louisville. Louisville actually has to play two games in five days. That can hurt the Cardinals. The important thing to remember here is the last time ND played in a prime time game Labor Day weekend the result was not pretty. But this is a completely different team.
Notre Dame has to play the faceless opponent. The Irish need to come out with a decisive win against the Cardinals. In a year where the schedule may not help them, they need the College Football Playoff (CFP) committee an eye test on margin of victory against opponents. I think Phil Jurkovec may get some playing time in this game as well.
George chooses ND 44-17
Week Two: Bye Week
Irish are home and prepping for their next opponent New Mexico and Bob Davie
Week Three/Game Two: New Mexico At Notre Dame
New Mexico was 3-9 last season under Bob Davie. The New Mexico Lobos finished last in the Mountain West Conference. They are returning 11 starters from last year’s squad. The question remains will they be motivated to play for Bob Davie?
Jimmy chooses ND 56-10
Bob Davie would love nothing more to comeback to ND and stick a loss against his employer. Davie is going to need to figure out how to outwit, outlast and outplay Brian Kelly and his staff. Bob Davie is going to need to dig deep and really get his team motivated to outscore the Irish.
Once again, the Irish are going to need to play smart football for sixty minutes. Discipline on both sides of the along with the will to really pour pressure on New Mexico. Also, this could be a trap game if the Irish look past New Mexico as Georgia is next on the schedule. Another decisive will be needed to keep the eyes of the CFP on the their performance.
George chooses ND 48-17
Week Four/Game Three: Notre Dame At Georgia
Until ND can close out a big road game, it’s hard to pick’em. Some examples, Miami, Cotton Bowl against Clemson, I (Jimmy) feel they under-performed. The loss to Texas in 2016, they just didn’t finish. The Bulldogs have a new Offensive and Defensive Coordinator If Georgia wants to keep their playoff hopes alive the need to beat ND. I (Jimmy) would be glad to be proven wrong on this one.
Jimmy chooses GA 31-20
As Lee Corso would say on the set of College GameDay on ESPN, “Not So Fast“, Jimmy, I love ya like a brotha but “No”. After the horrible loss to the Bulldogs a couple of seasons ago at home, It’s time for some unfinished business. The 2019 team is not the 2017 team. The Irish bring back the “Fightin” against the Bulldogs in a legitimate win over an SEC team.
With Book, the super tandem of Tony Jones Jr and Jafar Armstrong, the offensive effort will overcome the Bulldogs defensive line. The other key is that the Irish defense must stymie the Bulldogs offensive weapons. The Irish can win a close one against the Bulldogs and definitely have the attention of the CFP committee.
George chooses ND 35-31
Week Five/Game Four: Virginia At Notre Dame
If ND wins at Georgia, this becomes a trap game. The Cavaliers could have 10-11 wins this year. Last year they beat Miami, lost to Pitt, GT, VT in over time. Bronco Mendenhall is a very good coach. The Cavaliers are returning 13 starters from last season.
Jimmy chooses ND 28-20
If ND losses to the Bulldogs, they are not losing two in a row. If they beat the Bulldogs in the previous week, their demons can be their over confidence. Either way the Irish cannot dwell on the past. They need to play in the moment. The Irish will be showing their fans the direction of this team a the conclusion of this match-up. Confidence and control are the keys to victory.
George chooses ND 31-17
Week Six/Game Five: Bowling Green At Notre Dame
Bowling Green comes in with a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder. Last season Bowling Green went 3-9 and are returning 16 starters from that squad. The Irish need to keep their foot on the gas and need a large margin win.
Jimmy chooses ND 41-16
Brian VanGorder has been a journeyman since his exit from ND. His defense will not be able to stop the weapons on the Irish offensive side of the ball. The defense will demonstrate and show they are renewed defensive unite and will give Bowling Green problems on the offensive side of the ball.
BVG will not be able to outplay the Irish coaching staff in this match-up.
George chooses ND 48-20
Week Seven/Game Six: USC At Notre Dame
USC is in disarray. They return 13 starters from last season. They have a new Offensive Coordinator and their Head Coach Clay Helton could be on the way out by this game. USC has a brutal schedule. Gone are the Pete Carroll days of USC for now, the Trojans are rebuilding and redefining themselves.
Jimmy chooses ND 37-20
USC plays two road games in a row. The play at Washington , then they travel to Notre Dame. The Trojans always tend to play the Irish tough. last year they were winning at halftime until Alohi Gilman stood up and made that memorable halftime speech. The Irish will make sure that the trend of winning continues in to the bye week. the Irish defense will speak up at this game.
George chooses ND 42-13
First Half Wrap Up
The Irish are 5-1 in Jimmy’s first half picks, while George has them at 6-0. The irish will need some style points as the time will draw closer to the CFP committee is set to take the reigns of the polls at the beginning of November. The first half will be entertaining and the second half of the season will not disappoint either. Remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Go Irish! ☘🏈⚡