Scott Novak: Notre Dame is back on trackPublished 3:27pm Sunday, October 14, 2012
NOTRE DAME – With each week that goes by, I become a firm believer that Brian Kelly has the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back on track.
Of course, it is in Kelly’s nature to turn a program around and hit the gas in his third season.
But unlike many, I have no illusions that this team is capable of winning a National Championship this season. Too many things would have to happen for Notre Dame to do that.
This team, while vastly improved from last season, is still not good enough to beat an Alabama, LSU or even an Oklahoma, which it will get a chance to try and do in a couple of weeks.
No, this team is not good enough offensively to beat some of the better teams in the country. I’m going to have to see a lot more from that side of the football before I will even predict that it can beat a USC.
Defensively, the Fighting Irish are one of the top teams in the country. This team has improved each week, especially in the secondary. There is still some work to do in the defensive backfield, but front seven are as good as anyone.
Defense may win championships, but the offense has to step up and chip in at some point.
Notre Dame looked great against the 119th worst defense in the country, but struggled to find its feet against Stanford, which had only the 55th best defense.
That means the defense spends a lot of time on the field and against the likes of an Oklahoma or a USC that spells trouble no matter how good it is.
Still, this has all the makings of a memorable season for the Irish. It’s been a long time since Notre Dame was really relevant when it comes to talking about the top teams in the country. But the Fighting Irish are back and they should remain in the conversation right up through the bowl season.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org