Last year's preseason game-by-game forecast picked all 12 Notre Dame regular season games correctly, but its predictions for Navy and Army proved to be a bit optimistic.
The 11-1 forecast for Navy wasn't too far off as the Middies went 9-3 before losing to Boston College in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Paul Johnson improved his Navy head coaching record to 37-25 and is a stellar 35-15 over the last four seasons. Not too surprisingly, the Midshipmen have gone bowling for four straight years.
Navy's 2006 resume included a fourth straight win over Air Force and its fifth consecutive victory over Army on the way to capturing the Commander-In-Chief's trophy for the fourth season in-a-row. (The C-I-C trophy is awarded for winning the annual round-robin competition among the three military academies).
The computer sees a slight backslide to a 7-5 season in 2007 as the Midshipmen tackle a road slate that includes Rutgers, Pitt and Notre Dame. Their home game with Northern Illinois offers the best chance to pick up another win as they are an underdog by just under two points.
Army turned in a disappointing 3-9 last season after the computer projected a 6-6 campaign. The Black Knights didn't obtain the success that was hoped for when Bobby Ross was hired in 2004. That's not to say that he didn't make great strides with the program. After all, Army was on a 15-game losing streak when Ross took the reigns in 2004. He went 9-25 in three seasons but tendered his resignation on January 29.
Offensive line coach Stan Brock, a 16-year NFL veteran offensive tackle who played two seasons for Ross with the Chargers, was promoted to succeed him. Brock became an Arena Football League head coach with Portland in the middle of the 1997 season and went 12-24. He was then named the first head coach of the expansion Los Angeles Avengers where he was 3-11 in the teams' inaugural season. Brock was fired after an 0-3 start in 2001, ending his AFL head coaching career with a 15-38 record.
If the computer is correct, another 3-9 campaign lies on the horizon for the Black Knights. They are underdogs by 22 points or more in five different games and double-digit underdogs eight times. Additionally, the projected home win over Tulane is by less than 2 points. Games at West Point against lowly Temple and 1-AA Rhode Island appear to offer the only solid shots at victory.
As for Notre Dame, Charlie Weiss has led the Fighting Irish to a 19-6 record in his first two seasons as head coach, but both campaigns ended in big BCS bowl losses (34-20 to Ohio State in the 2005 Fiesta, and 41-14 to LSU in last year's Sugar). Notre Dame's postseason futility streak was extended to nine games with its last bowl victory coming in the 1993 Cotton.
The two losses in the regular season last year were similar blowouts as the Irish bowed 47-21 to Michigan and 44-24 to USC. Alarmingly, all three Notre Dame losses last year were by margins of 20-to-27 points.
This year, three of the projected losses are on road trips to Penn State (+2.22), Michigan (+4.24) and Purdue (+2.48). They are all by relatively slim margins which should leave the Irish faithful with plenty of encouragement that Notre Dame's on-field performance could be better than expected. On the other hand, the forecasted defeats at UCLA (+10.57) and at home to USC (+13.13) have fairly hefty spreads. Also, the predicted home wins over Georgia Tech (-2.30) and Boston College (-1.02) don't leave much room for comfort.