We rate the top 25 estimates by national security. Nerd up, geek out, and follow along for number 23, Notre Dame.
23. Notre Dame.
Companion Country: Russia. Ruled by a strong man who, after a long losing streak in contests abroad finally led his nation to victory against inferior opposition in 2008.
Like Putin, enjoys photo ops emphasizing his cold lethality.
Economically, Notre Dame is also a single commodity market, dependent largely on the performance of their quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, who coordinated the respectably ranked 34th ranked passing game despite being "protected" by the 100th ranked pass game, a natural analog to Russia's formidable ability to bomb away at distance with nuclear weapons while sitting behind 12,514 miles of land border. If his value declines, the whole country's economy collapses. Clausen also shares Russian gangsters' fondness for hair gel and numerous gaudy rings, and could easily double as a Muscovite oil tycoon-on-the-make bribing a traffic cop/ND usher to let him out of a traffic ticket/make noise during a football game.
Also, Charlie Weis likes to poison his opponents with radioactive tea. < ---totally untrue and completely speculative both for Weis and Pooty-poot. Luv u Vladimir plz dont kil me kthx.
Internal Stability: As good as it has been in decades, but that doesn't say much? The strong man in question, Charlie Weis, would be seconds away from firing were it not for the general consensus that Notre Dame's schedule was as easy an array of foes as the Empire had faced since Soviet troops ran roughshod over Czech hippies in Prague. ND goes to Michigan to face a Michigan team still on the rebuild-rebound, and plays Boston College in South Bend (or doesn't, if you're the ND fan who doesn't like to speak of "Fredo," who coincidentally has taken the gun six times in a row, killed Al Neri, and then stormed up to you in the part of "Michael" and drastically rewritten the story line by shooting the Godfather. Either way, feel free to pretend they don't exist. It's cute, in a petty, SEC-fan kind of way. We mean that.)
The game against USC is likely a lost cause, and because they should win it the game against Pitt at Pitt should terrify the Irish since the Wannstache does his best stabbin' when you think he's only got a butter knife in hand. Otherwise, we're talking a nine or ten win season on paper for the Irish, and that bodes well for the man in charge and his long-term job prospects. The serfs of Notre Dame fandom will likely flock to their leader, as they do tend to act more on faith than evidence, and like to shoot dissenters on sight. Be warned, should you point out any mention of the weak schedule, suspect running game, or likely disappointment in a BCS game come December 15th or so. They'll be 10-2 or 9-3, and that will be all that matters to set the still-formidable Notre Dame hype machine into Speznaz silent killing mode.
Surprising thing you did not know about this team: Nine starters back on offense, six on defense, and the noobs include Manti Te'o, the Stormin' Mormon from Hawai'i who will man strongside linebacker while silently tut-tutting in his head at all the naughty language defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta uses. Charlie Weis will call plays from the sideline, most likely, in a Putin-esque display of manliness in the face of injury. He will, however, leave his pet tiger on the sideline, as it is a real distraction when it starts bounding around the field.
Also: Golden Tate. Strong like Stalin.
The IMF says: Russian-themed ribbing aside, the long-term prospects are good, but with a sour take. Approve ND for extensive credit into the low teens, especially if they perform well against USC, something they may be able to do with a pressure defense, home-run ball offense (hope you like the fade to Golden Tate! You're getting 384739482 of them this season,) and homefield advantage. Then, if possible, sell shares when they're snapped up by a BCS bowl, watch others do the same, and buy the cover when they lose to a two loss standard-bearer like Texas, USC, or whomever they end up facing in a BCS defeat. A replay of 2006? Sure, but all in all 2006 was a pretty good year. Notre Dame's not there yet, but 23 seems like a bit cautious, and more of a hedge by voters finally overreacting to years of "turnaround, arrived!" votes in the mid-teens. As with any good market, run the other way to profit, and put 'em somewhere between 13-18, which is where they'll likely end up after a solid year.