Last year Notre Dame entered the season with what was considered the nation’s most difficult schedule and could very well do the same this year.
The Fighting Irish are one of the few programs that don’t play any FCS programs so that means they don’t have that glorified dress rehearsal as so many others enjoy.
Notre Dame will open with a cream puff after all as Temple comes to South Bend. The Owls went just 4-7 last season and will have a new coach as Matt Rhule takes over for Steve Addazio, who departed for Boston College.
A week later the Fighting Irish will have their annual clash with Michigan with this one coming in primetime in the Big House. It will mark the final game between two of college football’s juggernauts in Ann Arbor as the two will discontinue their rivalry after the 2014 season as result of Notre Dame joining the ACC and needing to make room on its schedule for a handful of ACC opponents.
Michigan will be a top-15 team when the Irish come to town and be ushering in the Devin Gardner era as he’ll be the full-time starting quarterback after Denard Robinson finally departed.
One week later the Irish will face another program under new leadership. Darrell Hazell’s Purdue Boilermakers will be amped up when Notre Dame comes a calling to Ross-Ade Stadium.
On Sept. 21, the Irish will return to Notre Dame Stadium to entertain another Big Ten foe in Michigan State, who will be without star running back Le’Veon Bell since he’ll be in the NFL.
The next four opponents hail from west of the Mississippi.
Oklahoma comes to South Bend on the last Saturday in September and you know Bob Stoops will have revenge on their minds after falling to the Irish in Norman last season.
The Sooners are another potential top-15 team on Notre Dame’s schedule, but they have tons of questions starting with how they’ll be offensively since record-setting QB Landry Jones is no longer under center.
Notre Dame’s “neutral” site game follows on Oct. 5 as Pac-12 member Arizona State will provide the opposition. That game will take place in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
After six straight games, the Irish will then enjoy a bye week before hosting rival USC Oct. 19.
The schedule then gets a lot more friendly.
A trip to Colorado Springs to meet Air Force follows the SC clash.
November opens with Navy coming to town after which the Irish travel to Pitt.
The second bye week comes Nov. 16 before BYU finishes the home part of the schedule Nov. 23.
The regular-season finale will come Nov. 30 at Stanford in what could be one of the biggest games of the college football season. The Cardinal are ranked second nationally in ESPN.com’s early preseason poll.
Since fans love prognostications, polls and predictions, I’ll go ahead and give you a March Madness version of my predicted 2013 Notre Dame record.
I really like how the schedule sets up and think the Irish should go 9-3 with the losses coming at Michigan and at Stanford and to either Oklahoma or USC at home.
Notre Dame caught a lot of breaks last season and if the ball doesn’t bounce its way in ’13, nine wins may be difficult to obtain. However, if the Irish stay healthy, quarterback Everett Golson improves as expected and the ball does bounce in their favor once again, another double-digit victory total will be on the horizon.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.