CFB: Top 25 Countdown: No. 14 Notre Dame
By Randall Perry
No. 14 Notre Dame
Coach: Charlie Weis
Record: 29-21, 4 years
Last season: 7-6
Bowl: Beat Hawaii 49-21 in the Hawaii Bowl
Overview: The past two years have been tough for coach Charlie Weis. After going 19-6 in his first two years, Weis has been 10-15 the past two and last season the Irish were barely eligible for a bowl game. There was much speculation about whether Notre Dame would keep Weis. But the Fighting Irish thrashed Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl and they are showing up in virtually every early Top 25 poll.
Key returnees: QB Jimmy Clausen, Jr., WR Golden Tate, Jr., C Dan Wenger, Sr.
Why Notre Dame is dangerous: The Irish have one of the nationís best pitch-catch combinations. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for 3,172 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, and receiver Golden Tate had 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns. Snapping the ball will be Rimington Trophy candidate Dan Wenger. Ten starters return on offense and eight on defense.
Why Notre Dame is vulnerable: The Fighting Irish are still a work in progress. They need to improve their running game. Defensively, the line, which lacks depth, needs to play better than it did last season.
Prediction: The Irish have only four road games. They play host to Southern Cal on Oct. 17. If things fall into place, Notre Dame has a chance at a breakout season and possibly a BCS bowl. If not, the cries for replacing Weis could grow louder.