2009 College Football Preview: No. 24 Notre Dame

Rick GillispieCorrespondent IIAugust 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 29:  Jimmy Clausen #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish walks on the field against the USC Trojans on November 29, 2008 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 38-3.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

Notre Dame comes in at No. 24 in my countdown of the top 25 teams heading into the 2009 college football season.

Perhaps no other team in the country has a receiving tandem as explosive as junior Golden Tate and sophomore Michael Floyd.

Floyd caught 48 passes for 719 yards and seven touchdowns last season, to set just about every Notre Dame freshman receiving record, despite missing two full games and most of a third with a knee injury. Tate's big-play ability is evident from his impressive career average of 18.9 yards per catch. Tate closed the season by catching six passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the Hawaii Bowl.

Notre Dame has 10 offensive starters returning.

Junior QB Jimmy Clausen is a former No. 1 overall prospect who also has star potential, if he reduces his interceptions.

Notre Dame is moving to a 4-3 base set this season after going with a 3-4 and a 3-3-5 for the past few seasons. The Irish still might utilize a 3-4 on rare occasions.

The Irish don't feature any legitimate superstars on defense, but they do have a few solid players capable of making the leap to stardom.

SS Kyle McCarthy recorded 110 tackles last season, which made him the first defensive back in school history to have more than 100 tackles in a season.

The secondary should emerge as the strength of the defense for a second consecutive season.

Notre Dame has received plenty of attention for its supposedly tissue-soft schedule, but the perception isn't necessarily the reality. If Notre Dame truly is a BCS contender, the Irish should be able to feast on this schedule.

But if the Irish haven't improved all that much, they could slip up against many of these teams. Nevada, Michigan State, Boston College, Navy, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut were bowl teams last season. The Irish also must travel to Michigan and Stanford, teams that should be vastly improved.

Notre Dame has 18 recruits coming in for the 2009 season, with seven in the top 150 of ESPN's recruiting class.


All info taken from Rivals.com and ESPN.com