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2013 Notre Dame
Schedule and Odds
After making it to last year's National Championship game, Notre Dame has their sights set on another BCS bowl run in 2013. However, a wrinkle in the middle of summer that leaves former starting QB Everett Golson off the team brings some questions surrounding the offense. With much of their defense returning (excluding Manti Te'o), there's no reason why the Fighting Irish still won't be a top team. They can be found near the Top 10 in most projections, yet there is some tentativeness about them as they were extremely lucky last year in close games. Five of their wins were by a touchdown or less if that says anything.
Their offense will once again be their main question mark after barely averaging over 25 points per game last year. Tommy Rees, once again, enters the season as the starter in his senior year. Golson took his spot last year with Rees only seeing spotty work throughout the year. Without Theo Riddick or Cierre Wood in the backfield and tight end Tyler Eifert to throw to, Rees will have to find some new friends which may prove to be an early problem. George Atkinson III will take over at RB while TJ Jones will likely get plenty more looks at the WR spot after 50 receptions last year. The offensive line lost two starters, but they have enough strength there that it shouldn't be a problem.
Defensively, Notre Dame could be better than they were last season if Jarrett Grace can step into the inside linebacker spot left by Te'o. This unit returns eight starters and will once again be one of the best in the country. Sure, they are losing leadership, but to think that no one can step up from last year's squad is a mistake. There are plenty of studs that can lead this defense.
2013 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Temple
Sept. 7 at Michigan
Sept. 14 at Purdue
Sept. 21 vs. Michigan State
Sept. 28 vs. Oklahoma
Oct. 5 vs. Arizona State (Arlington)
Oct. 19 vs. USC
Oct. 26 at Air Force
Nov. 2 vs. Navy
Nov. 9 at Pitt
Nov. 23 vs. BYU
Nov. 30 at Stanford
Since this is Notre Dame we're talking about, it's no surprise they have a diverse and difficult schedule. From the start they will get tested by a Michigan team that continues to move up preseason rankings. It will be very telling for both the offense and defense if they can pull out a win in Ann Arbor. A road game at Purdue follows which is a tad deceiving because the Boilermakers only lost by a last second field goal last year.
Next up is a stretch of three home games and a meeting with Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium. None of these games will be easy as Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC could all be in the Top 25 by the end of the season. However, let's not forget Notre Dame did beat all of them on the road last year, and none of them were all that close.
Before the season finale with Stanford, the Fighting Irish get four opponents they should beat, but as seen last year, it's never that easy when Pittsburgh took them to three overtimes. Playing at Stanford could be Notre Dame's toughest task of the season and it could even be a fight for the BCS Championship as both teams could be undefeated.
This year, the Fighting Irish have to deal with expectations which could hurt their chances of repeating another 12-win season. Playing as the underdog is much easier than playing as the favorite. While 12 wins is possible, it wouldn't be a surprise if Notre Dame slipped up a couple times this year and finished with 10 or less wins in the regular season, especially with their quarterback issues.
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