Outside Perceptions


Notre Dame fans seemed shocked by the line.

Every once in a while, it’s a useful exercise to step outside the box and view what other people are seeing.

Perspective is important. A year ago at this time we were incredulous that a lot of people had written Temple off, saying “Temple will take a step back.” We outlined five reasons why 2016 was the step forward year, not the step back one, and cautioned those know-it-all outsiders to not be surprised.

Winning 10 games, plus the AAC title, was that step forward. At the same time, we also wrote in this spot that 2017 would be the “step back” year, but we wrote step, not steps. To me, this team is an 8-9-win team, not a 6-win team, but only time will tell.

One outsider has completely gone off the rails, though, picking the Owls as the 111th-ranked team in the Orlando Sentinel preseason polls.


Not a very well-researched article. (Or even well-edited. In the first graph, she says the Owls are No. 111. In the second graph, it says “our ranking is 112.” Which is it?)

One-hundred-and-11th (or 12th) is not even six wins, but more like two or three. There was not a lot of thought process involved in that ranking.

Then there is this:


Consider the above a baby step forward. “How many wins in a row will Notre Dame have IF it beats Temple?”

When this series was first announced seven years ago, the word IF would have been laughable but, after the inferior 2015 Owls (compared to the 2016 version) hung with the then No. 9-ranked Irish, it is best for ND fans to take this game more seriously than the 2016 Owls took their opener.  Last year’s Temple team beat Navy, 34-10. Navy beat last year’s Notre Dame team.

Plenty of variables for the 2017 Owls make this season harder to predict than the last two, but the defense should be as good or slightly better and the offense should be slightly worse. One is what kind of head coach Geoff Collins will be. You’ve got to assume he won’t be the stumbling bumbler Matt Rhule was his first two seasons. Also if  Anthony Russo can just duplicate the first season of P.J. Walker (20 touchdowns, eight interceptions), the Owls should be fine in that area, too. Having covered high school football in Philadelphia for much of the last 30 years, Russo is by far the best talent to come out of this city since Matt Ryan committed to Boston College.

At the end of the regular season the last two years, the Owls were ranked in the Top 25. One-hundred-and-eleven is just dumb, though. In the college football world of recruiting and redshirting, it is impossible to drop from the top 25 to the bottom 15 in just one season.

This team will compete for a third-straight spot in the AAC title game. Whether they can get there with eight wins, as opposed to nine, is a question too hard to answer right now.

Wednesday: Mr. Nice Guy

Friday: Spread This

Monday: 5 Reasons Why The Owls Will Contend 


9 thoughts on “Outside Perceptions

  1. Didn’t UCF pretty much freefall from top 25 to a winless season recently? There sure are a lot of questions for this coming season – coaching being at the top of my list. Any way to report on expectations for the D since Collins has been a terrific D coach himself? If they can mix things up on D against ND and get something going on O, anything can happen.

  2. huge assumption or wishful thinking ref Russo…, Frankie Juice will get the nod vs ND, Centeio will be first in if things go South of South Bend

    • I think you are putting too much emphasis on the spring game, where really none of the four stood out from the other. Marchi was the clear No. 1 going into the spring game, which he had the worst day of the four. Russo and Centeio have the best upside. Juice is pedestrian at best, just like the last Juice (Granger) to QB the Owls. Going on the full body of spring work, I’d have to give a slight edge to Marchi now because they don’t want to start a freshman at ND. If Marchi falls flat at ND, Russo gets the nod against Villanova. Nutile is the third QB and Centeio gets the redshirt. Centeio can benefit from a redshirt year, just like Russo did.

  3. I completely agree with everything your wrote. I have a feeling that Armstead plus Gardner (and Hood, Raynor and Isaiah Wright) will present a more potent running attact that Armstead plus Thomas and company. Our defensive backs are terrific and deep, and the D line is tough as nails. It will be new linebackers, but the incoming guys are fast and talented. Finch, if he stays healthy, may well be another Reddick, plus the guy is unbelievable at blocking kicks and punts. Watch for that new corner back transfer to run back kicks in a way we haven’t seen since Matty did it for us. Thanks for your comments and insights and for the historical info you sent to me in the past. PS Was that huge upset of Virginia Tech (their homecoming no less) the biggest upset we pulled in your and my lifetime? Rabbi Dick White (Salisrab)

  4. If you’re betting man parlay TU and under.

    • I am, but I wouldn’t touch this game with a 10-foot pole. The next week, though, I would bet the house and the farm on Temple to cover what I would think would be a 21-point spread against VIllanova (‘Nova was getting 22 against Pitt in the opener last year in the houses that provided lines on FBS/FCS games). Two new coaches.

  5. Shannon just wrote the piece, the “ranking” system is from Matt Murschel. (Think, headline writer/writer….) She had nothing to do with the 111/112.

  6. Thanks for the D player/position evaluation Rabbi, but I was referring more to Collins’ rep for tough and attack schemes. If this ends up a close game I sure hope the Owls can pull it out this time. That would be so sweet.

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