So college football is upon us again, and for Notre Dame that means Texas in three days, and for some people that means it's time to bury the throttle and predict the Irish will be far more ascendant than they will likely wind up being.
Which is to say: It's early September, and time again to overhype the Irish.
Maybe one of these days they'll actually be as good as some people always think they are this time of year, but not this year. Yes, the defense should be stout. Yes, the O-line and the running game should be robust. Yes, Malik Zaire has definite promise at quarterback.
But, no, that doesn't mean they're going to wind up in the four-team championship playoff, which some prognosticators have forecast.
To be blunt, the people who are saying that have been smoking something other than Marlboro Lights, and not just because this is the same basic group of players that went 8-5 last year. It's because the schedule includes two and probably three likely losses, even if Zaire turns out to be as good as he was in the small sample size we got at the end of last season.
Texas will be handful enough in Charlie Strong's second year, but down the road the Irish get a Georgia Tech team that returns a wealth of talent from a team that won 10 games last year and obliterated Mississippi State, a one-time No. 1, in the Orange Bowl. Then there's the road trip to Clemson, which destroyed Oklahoma 40-6 in its bowl game. Then there's USC, out of jail at last and picked to win the Pac-12. Then there's the roadie to Stanford to end the season.
Does anyone who doesn't bleed blue-and-gold seriously believe the Irish survive all that with one loss or fewer?
No, the preseason ranking of No. 11 seems far more realistic, taking everything into consideration.
Not that, you know, realistic has much to do with it when it's the Irish, and early September.