Each week during the college football season, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay kick off the week by settling a debate, then will discuss emerging NFL prospects and look ahead to next week.
The discussion: Will a semi-move to the ACC help Notre Dame, and how good are the Fighting Irish this season?
Todd McShay: If Notre Dame played in the ACC, I think they would be slightly behind Florida State, but you can make an argument that they're better or equal in talent to any other team in the conference. (I broke the league up into "talent tiers" to work this through, with teams in no particular order inside the tiers: Tier 1 is Florida State; Tier 2 is Clemson and Virginia Tech; Tier 3 is Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, North Carolina and future ACC member Pittsburgh; Tier 4 is Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest; Tier 5 is Duke.)
A few years ago, the Irish wouldn't have ranked that high. They've gotten a lot better recently. It started with the Manti Te'o recruiting class of 2009, but they've got some very good young players as well -- and we're starting to see a team that's a lot deeper. Even without having a dominant team the past two seasons, the Irish have gone 7-1 against ACC teams, with their one loss coming to the Seminoles, 18-14, in last year's bowl game. So look for Notre Dame to dominate its extended slate of ACC games under its new arrangement with the league, and possibly even benefit by getting more recruiting exposure in the Southeast region (outside of the Midwest, Notre Dame's roster has more players from the Southeast than from any other part of the country).