Notre Dame has struggled in the BCS era against ranked opponents. The Irish look to change that in 2014.
The highest winning percentage in college football history, 11 claimed national championships and a record seven Heisman Trophy winners. This is Notre Dame football, arguably the most storied program in college football. However, during the BCS era the Irish have not lived up to this tradition. They have not been able to win the big games.
Notre Dame has been to a respectable four BCS bowl games since the BCS began in 1998. The problem is they have lost all four of these games by an average margin of 23 points per game. The most recent of these was a 42-14 beatdown at the hands of Alabama in the 2012 national championship.
These struggles have not been confined to the BCS bowls. During Charlie Weis’s era at Notre Dame, the Irish did not beat one team that finished the season with less than four losses. The Irish were also an abysmal 5-13 against the Top 25 under Weis.
Brian Kelly led the Irish to a 37-15 record and a national championship appearance in his first four years at Notre Dame. These are numbers many coaches would be thrilled to have in their first four years. However, the Irish have still had their fair share of struggles with ranked opponents. They are 7-6 against the Top 25 under Kelly, and lost their national championship appearance by 28 points. The question still stands; can Notre Dame win the big games?
Notre Dame will have their fair share of big games in the 2014 season. They play four teams who finished ranked in the AP Top 25 at the end of the 2013 season, two of which finished in the top 11. The game that all Irish fans have circled on their schedules is the matchup with the reigning national champion Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee on October 18th. Knocking off the Seminoles on the road would be a great way for Notre Dame to show they can win the big games.
The Irish have had a great offseason to help better themselves for the upcoming season. Everett Golson has returned to the team after being suspended for the fall semester. During his suspension, Golson trained with quarterback coach George Whitfield who has worked with Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton. Along with getting Golson back, the Irish currently have the eighth-ranked recruiting class. The Irish have also added great assistants to their staff in Brian VanGorder and Matt LaFleur. All of these moves are steps in the right direction but the question still remains, can Notre Dame win the big games?