Notre Dame Fighting Irish Holiday Gift Guide 2015

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Irish a Mere Three W’s Away From College Football Playoff

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The forecast calls for more sun than clouds and comfortable, cool 50° conditions when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take the field at home in South Bend against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons this Saturday. The Las Vegas experts have Notre Dame as a four touchdown favorite, and it seems like a margin that they will be able to comfortably cover if they are operate their game plan.

Big-time running back CJ Procise is out of this week’s competition with a concussion, and that could detract from the Irish’s 18th-overall ranked rushing attack. The squad averages 220 yards on the ground, exactly twice as much as the Demon Deacons, who are coincidentally ranked 118th overall.

An educated college football mind can see that Notre Dame will try to break the will of Wake Forest early and often on the ground, and a small fleet of talented backup running backs will likely be up to the challenge.

South Bend is abuzz after the most recent College Football Playoff rankings have the Fighting Irish currently in the four-team tournament. If they are able to win this game and the following one at Boston College next Saturday, it will create a very high-stakes showdown with Stanford in Palo Alto on the evening of Saturday, November 28.

The only potential pitfall for Notre Dame would be getting a bit too ahead of themselves, which they are highly unlikely to do under the guidance of head coach Brian Kelly, a capable commander who leaves no stone unturned while preparing for each week.

Wake Forest got off to a hopeful start with a 41-3 victory against Elon in the opening weekend, but they have dropped six of their last eight games since. They were on the winning end of a bizarre and incredibly rare 3-0 victory at Boston College earlier this year, but they have scored at least two touchdowns in each of their other games. They will need to do at least that to have a shot in hostile territory against a motivated Fighting Irish team.

There are always a few major upsets in the final weeks of the season that absolutely destroy the rankings and the hopes of a few proud and talented programs, but this is not likely to be one of them. Notre Dame will exert its will against an overmatched squad, leaving fans heading into the Indiana night with cause to celebrate. Prediction: Wake Forest 16 Notre Dame 43

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Fighting Irish to Battle Owls in Biggest Game of Week 9

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A college football fan could have gotten some pretty long odds this past summer that Notre Dame vs Temple would be the only matchup of ranked teams in Week 9 of the 2015 season. But that is the situation as the 6-1 Fighting Irish head into Philadelphia to take on the 7-0 Owls in a unique and intriguing matchup.

On the first Saturday in October, Notre Dame lost a heartbreaker to Clemson in Death Valley by just two points. The squad has prevailed by at least a touchdown in each of their six victories. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas have made Brian Kelly’s bunch an 11 point favorite in this one, which is a whole lot of respect heading into this Halloween battle.

Or it could be that the oddsmakers in the desert and the experts throughout the nation are simply showing Temple far too little respect. The fact that the feisty group is undefeated this far into the season has fans and alumni paying more attention to the team than ever. Temple’s offensive production is nothing to brag about, and they average less than 350 total yards per go round.

It does not take a genius to realize that they rely on their defense, a squad that has been excellent against the run while taking on a handful squads built to move the ball on the ground. Their opening day victory over Penn State got the attention of the nation, and when they defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats and one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation the following week, a fluke begin to turn into a trend.

Notre Dame will be their toughest opponent this season, but they will have a home-field advantage as well as the advantage of playing in front of a nationally televised audience. Historically, the Owls play well when given the rare opportunity to perform on the brightest stages.

The Irish come off an emotional 41-31 victory over the USC Trojans in South Bend. It was a strange affair following the dismissal of USC’s coach due to alleged alcoholism, but the ND was able to rise above the national chatter and put forth a performance that keep their hopes for a National Championship alive.

How will this matchup breakdown? After extensive analysis and consideration, we’re willing to make a bold prediction that Temple will hang around until very late and give Notre Dame a huge scare. Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Temple 29

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Notre Dame vs Southern California: Trojans Could Be Dangerous After Emotional Week

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A Saturday, October 17 matchup in a long list of intriguing battles features the Southern California Trojans traveling to South Bend, Indiana to take on the #14-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The USC football community was jolted this past week by the initial announcement that coach Steve Sarkisian would be taking a leave of absence, which was followed about 24 hours later by the official announcement that he would be relieved of his duties as head football coach at one of the most prestigious programs in the nation.

With little time to establish their new identity and form a game plan, it will obviously be difficult for USC to best a Fighting Irish group in a loud and boisterous environment.

To play devil’s advocate, college football teams sometimes respond with a surge of energy and a renewed swagger and confidence following the dismissal of a coach who obviously needed to go. Interim coach Clay Helton is reportedly approaching his new role with heaps of zest and energy, and if he is able to get the most out of his troops immediately, the Irish will have a battle on their hands.

On paper, these are two comparable squads. Southern Cal has posted very impressive numbers on offense, most notably through the air with an average of 317 yards per game. Their most glaring weaknesses is their passing defense. The 75th-overall ranked group has given up a number of huge plays through the air in the first half of the 2015 schedule.

It seems logical and safe to conclude that Notre Dame will figure out a way to win this ballgame. Head coach Brian Kelly is absolutely nails when it comes to decision-making in pressure situations, and he seems to be especially zoned in at home in front of sellout crowds and underneath Touchdown Jesus.

Unlike the vast majority of Notre Dame teams from the past three decades, this squad is actually noticeably stronger on offense than they are on defense. Any college football team that can run the ball for nearly 250 yards per game and pass for over 250 yards per game will likely equate to a championship contender.

If the Irish are able to win this game and run the board over their next five, highlighted by a season-ending game at Stanford, they will still be very much in the mix as the 2015 College Football Playoff is determined.

But there also remains a realistic chance that ND could lose as many as three more games – or in a nightmarish scenario, four more – before the season is out. The upside for all fans is that each game from here on out will be a high-states, highly-entertaining affair.

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Notre Dame Expected to Handle Navy Easily, Raising Concern Among Irish Fans

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When Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney cried on the sidelines following the dramatic conclusion of last Saturday’s game against Notre Dame, it was a clear indication that playing the Fighting Irish is an emotional roller coaster.

A failed two-point conversion prevented the Irish from likely entering overtime with a Clemson squad that was on their heels, but the ultimate outcome was their first loss of the season and plenty of reasons to come into this Saturday’s game against Navy ready.

After losing his starting quarterback early into the season, head coach Brian Kelly appeared to be confident by all indications as he conducted interviews in the moments before, during and after each of the nationally-televised games since.

But the clock struck midnight last Saturday in Death Valley when the squad fell victim to a Clemson bunch that found slits in the armor of the Irish early and often enough to send them into scamper mode and temporarily ruin their Playoff Tournament aspirations.

The Midshipmen will likely come into this Saturday’s game very prepared after four consecutive victories to begin the season. Military academies are typically known for their focus on the ground game, and that is no different this year. But Navy has accomplished a few impressive feats through the air thanks to the arm of Senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Notre Dame vs Navy is a matchup that dates back to mid-October, 1927. The two teams have met a total of 88 times heading into this Saturday, and the Fighting Irish have prevailed exactly 75 times. Many fans who attend the game will be rooting for and openly expecting Notre Dame to come away with an easy W, but there remains about a 5% chance given the historical odds that the Midshipman will somehow emerge with an epic victory when the final whistle blows on the emerald expand in South Bend.

The game will pivot on the performance and stamina of the Notre Dame run defense, a group ranked 57th overall in major college football through the first five games after allowing an average of exactly 150 yards per game.

Assuming that the action unfolds somewhere close to how it should, Notre Dame will emerge with a comfortable victory by somewhere around 19 or 20 points. Upcoming games at home against Southern California and on the road against Temple and Pitt will continue the gauntlet of weekly tests for the team that is arguably the most daring in all of college football.

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