One always has the tendency to see the next game as one that "will really tell us where the team is at," especially throughout the first half of the season. Thinking about it, though, the last 4 games (Michigan, Michigan St., Purdue, Washington) I think established pretty clearly where we're at: roughly in the middle of the Pac 10 and Big 10. On par with the Spartans and Huskies, potentially dangerous to good teams but probably not a real threat to a team like the Tide or the Longhorns.
I hate to say it, but I think we know all too well who these two teams are that are playing in two weeks; we're just slow to admit it. I would be very surprised if we played at all competitively with Southern Cal. SC loses to an unranked team every year, usually right before they leave blue and gold splatter marks all over Notre Dame Stadium. Last year's Trojan D only allowed four Notre Dame first downs, and this year's D looks very similar so far. Yes, SC occasionally drops one to middling teams, but the better team is still more likely to win any given game.
I think we're started to get a sense of how the season is going to pan out for the Irish. In all likelihood, ND will finish its next game 4-2 with Pitt, UConn, Boston College, and Stanford as the remaining teams to beat. Last season ND went 7-5, meaning we'll have to beat 2 of these teams to show continued progress.
I hate to say, but things look pretty bleak from here for us, and even bleaker for Charlie Weis.