1. Notre Dame is currently #4 in the College Football Playoff standings. With games remaining against Wake Forest, Boston College, and Stanford, do you believe that the Irish will make the College Football Playoff if they win out?
I think heading into this without knowing the rankings I would have assumed the Big 12 would have a spot ahead of us, leaving the playoff as SEC, B1G, Big 12 and ACC. However, seeing where Baylor/OSU/Oklahoma/TCU were ranked the first couple of times through gives me some hope. I think if Baylor and ND win out, and Stanford wins the PAC12, there's going to be quite a ruckus around which of those teams belongs in with the 4th spot.
However, it's college football, so I'm assuming someone is going to lose that changes the whole picture. I think ND gets in if they win out the rest of the way, more because someone else tripped up than they earned it over an undefeated Baylor/OSU
2. Which Notre Dame unit (offense or defense) do you believe is the best?
There's a few different spots I could go with this, but I'm going to say the ND offensive line is the best unit they put out onto the field. The QB and WR corps are also very strong, but the O-Line is what makes everything tick. We're to our 3rd string QB (from Spring ball) and 4th string RB, and we're still putting up yards and points. That’s a big sign that everything is working very well up front.
3. Which Notre Dame unit (offense or defense) do you believe is the worst?
The obvious answer is probably the only unit for the Irish that hasn't at least met expectations this season, their secondary. The safety play has been at best okay at times, and at worst a complete clown show, and the cornerbacks seem to make plays only once in a rare while. That being said, a lot of the advanced statistics that folks (especially ND fans) use show the passing defense is actually very strong, but susceptible to a few big plays. If we're generating several 3 and outs but then giving up 80 yard TDs, is that an OK style of defense? It seems to be working OK thus far, but it remains to be seen if it will bite the Irish in a big spot.
4. Who is an under-the-radar player you expect to have a strong game on Saturday?
Before last week, I probably would have said Josh Adams, but he had one heck of a breakout performance filling in for a concussed CJ Prosise.
This week, I'm going to say Freshman tight end Alize Jones. Brian Kelly and the coaching staff have started to put in some extra work in the red zone, and I think Alize will be the beneficiary this week, catching two touchdowns.
5. Finally, what's your prediction for the game? Will the Irish cover the 27-point spread?
I think the Irish jump out to a big lead, up by about 35 in the 3rd quarter or so. They will then put in all the seniors/walkons/backups and allow a back door cover for the Demon Deacons. I'll say 38-3 at end of 3Q, and 41-17 final.
Many thanks to Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read my answers over at One Foot Down.