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Mailbag: More surprising Notre Dame result, undefeated Iowa and Jimbo Fisher’s banjo skills

Kelly-and-FiBrian Kelly and Jimbo Fisher

With the season here, it’s time once again to dive head first into the mailbag to answer your college football questions!

I am long overdue for a mailbag post, but now that the season is finally here I figured now was as good a time as any to dust off the old digital mailbox, pull out some questions and share my 100 percent unbiased yet informed opinions to each. This is a totally unique concept that no other college football writer is doing this season, I feel safe in guaranteeing you that much (note: my guarantee here is voided in all 50 states and all planets found in the Milky Way galaxy).

I think either scenario would be pretty surprising, honestly. Notre Dame has 10-wins awaiting them, but it could be argued they could be favored in every game they play this season. I have the Irish getting tripped up on the road at NC State and USC, but I am far from convinced either upset pick should be close to being considered a lock. This team is talented enough to get to 10 wins, and perhaps even 11. Twelve wins is a reach, but again, not completely out of the question if the Irish can get off to a good start.

I would say Notre Dame “greatly underperforming” and making a coaching change would be more of a surprising development. I assume this does not include the possibility Kelly heads off to the NFL, as has been rumored for a few years now. If we call winning seven games “greatly underperfoming” for Notre Dame, I think that would be fair. I also think a seven-win season could happen as I have a few games marked as wins that I would consider toss-ups (Michigan State and Stanford, for example).

My money is on Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell. It stinks because I really like Hazell, but I think we have reached a point where Purdue needs to realize he may not be the coach they need to take the next step forward. This will be Hazell’s fourth season with the Boilermakers and he is still searching to get past the three-win mark in a single season. Entering the 2016 season, Purdue is just 6-30 under his leadership. Purdue clearly has reason to feel some buyer’s remorse after going all in on Hazell following a 11-3 season at Kent State. Kent State was 5-7 in Hazell’s first season the previous year, which means there was a small sample size to evaluate as far as his head coaching skills were involved.

I’m actually calling for Purdue to jump out to a surprising 3-0 start, which would include a win over Cincinnati, but once Big Ten play opens it should be a long and painful march to the unemployment line for Hazell. If Purdue has any decency, they will not make him wait until the end of the season to make an expected change.

The Hawkeyes are coming off an undefeated regular season, and there is an expectation Iowa could once again find itself in the Big Ten—- wait, hold ona  second.

:: Wipes eyes ::

:: Reads question again ::

Well, I’ll put it this way. I think Iowa State is much closer to 11-1 than they will be 12-0.

I recently posted my Big 12 preview and called for Iowa State to finish in ninth in the 10-team (for now) Big 12. Yesterday on the site I added my full game-by-game predictions for each FBS program, including Iowa State. My preseason game-by-game predictions saw the Cyclones go just 3-9, with a paltry 1-8 mark in conference play. There are three games I think should be wins for Iowa State; Northern Iowa, San Jose State and at Kansas. I struggled to find another game I felt confident Iowa State would win in the first year under new head coach Matt Campbell, but if there is one thing I have come to expect from Iowa State, it is to expect an upset bid somewhere along the line. A Thursday night home game against Oklahoma seems interesting, but home games against Texas Tech and West Virginia to close out the regular season feel more comfortable for an upset bid this season.

I read this one three times to make sure I was replying about the right team. It seems there is at least one person if Iowa can run the table, at least in the regular season. The short answer is yes, Iowa can go undefeated in the regular season. I just do not expect top see it. As I note din my Big Ten preview, I think Iowa makes another strong run at the Big Ten West Division crown, although I am going with Wisconsin to come out on top this fall. As you see in my game-by-game predictions, the losses I am predicting for Iowa will come against Wisconsin and Penn State, but I do not consider either to be an automatic loss. Iowa gets Wisconsin at home and they get a bye week to prepare for Penn State on the road. I am calling for Iowa to beat Michigan, which will be played at home, but that

Excellent question, and I am afraid it is one I can not answer. As far as I know, Fisher has no musical background, so it would be easy to suggest he cannot play the banjo very well. Fisher may be from West Virginia, but that does not mean he was born with the gift to play banjo. However, I believe many people have hidden talents that are rarely, if ever, put on public display. Maybe Fisher is strumming like crazy in the little downtime he has away from football. Maybe he puts on private banjo performances for his family and friends when nobody is looking. I mean, I’ll take a guess that is not the case, but you just never know sometimes.

Want more? Check out my AMA on Reddit on Thursday!

I will be holding my first AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit with the college football community on Thursday, starting at 11:00 AM Eastern. I will attempt to answer as many questions as I can within the dedicated hour for the AMA session, and I will make an effort to keep answering questions after that when time permits. This is a link to the announcement post. The actual AMA post will be shared Thursday morning.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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