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Breaking Down the 2013 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Schedule

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Notre Dame: Breaking Down the 2013 Schedule

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Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a national title appearance and loss to Alabama in 2012, Notre Dame looks to silence the critics and prove that last season was no fluke. Going forward without linebacker Manti Te’o, tight end Tyler Eifert, running backs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick and quarterback Everett Golson will likely make for a tough adjustment in the 2013 season.

This team was once loaded and now looks to find replacements for all of the veteran players lost to the NFL and suspension. While the Fighting Irish are losing many key pieces on offense, they are returning most of their top defensive players and eight starters on that side of the ball.

Offensively, they will be looking a bit different with only five returning starters and a new quarterback behind center. Tommy Rees has been the starting quarterback of this team in the past and has 18 starts under his belt already.

Losing their top-two rushers from 2012 will be tough to overcome, but bringing in one of the country’s top-five 2013 running back prospects, Greg Bryant, will give this team an extra offensive weapon that they will desperately need. Rees’ biggest knock is that he can’t create his own plays like Golson did in 2012. However, he has over 4,400 career passing yards and 34 touchdowns, making him the veteran presence that this offense will eventually need in clutch situations.

Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish will enter the 2013 season as somewhat of an underdog by losing many key players, but they will surely be playing with a huge target on their back.

Let’s see how they stack up against their schedule in 2013.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Aug. 31: Temple

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Temple isn't nearly talented enough to slow down this Notre Dame team in its first game off a BCS title game loss. The Fighting Irish will have plenty to prove and why not beat up on the first team with the wrong colored jersey that you see?

PREDICTION: Temple 7, Notre Dame 35

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Sept. 7: at Michigan

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Traveling to Ann Arbor in the second game of the season won't be easy for the Fighting Irish. Although the Wolverines no longer have Denard Robinson, they do have talented replacement Devin Gardner and a better offense in 2013.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 21, Michigan 31

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Sept. 14: at Purdue

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Irish face the Boilermakers in their annual battle. Notre Dame has dominated the all-time series 56-26-2 and this year should be no different as the Boilermakers are revamping their entire scheme under new head coach Darrell Hazell.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 34, Purdue 20

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Sept. 21: Michigan State

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State is sure to be much better in 2013 than it was in 2012, but the Fighting Irish have the home-field advantage and it will play a big role in this game even though the Spartans normally dominate in South Bend. It will be a good rivalry game -- that's for sure.

PREDICTION: Michigan State 17, Notre Dame 24

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Sept. 28: Oklahoma

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma has plenty of talent and potential to contend for a Big 12 title, but the Fighting Irish also have a lot of talent and would contend for a title if they were actually in a conference. However, Notre Dame is, once again, very tough to beat at home and therefore it has the slight advantage in this close contest.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma 21, Notre Dame 24

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Oct. 5: Arizona State

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sun Devils have one of the best defenses in the nation and facing an even more talented Notre Dame defense won't be an easy task. The Fighting Irish had the second-best scoring defense in 2012 and that won't change too much in 2013. Arizona State's offense just won't be able to overcome such a suffocating defense.

PREDICTION: Arizona State 13, Notre Dame 30

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Oct. 19: USC

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin has received the brunt of criticism as USC's head coach and for good reason. His Trojans underachieved with All-American quarterback Matt Barkley last season and will look to sophomore Max Wittek to take over with the experience he brings to the table. The defense will be pretty solid and with Marquise Lee and Silas Redd on the offensive side of the ball, this team could surprise some people.

PREDICTION: USC 26, Notre Dame 27

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Oct. 26: at Air Force

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Traveling to face one of their oldest rivals in Air Force, the Fighting Irish will look to extend their win streak at this point to six games. Air Force will be going on with a new quarterback in Kale Pearson and head coach Troy Calhoun is hoping that his new QB can lead Falcons to their seventh consecutive bowl game.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 35, Air Force 24

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Nov. 2: Navy

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Navy finished 8-5 last season and will be a tough test for the Fighting Irish in one of their final regular season games. Notre Dame will look to make it seven wins in a row and push their record to 2-0 against military schools in 2013. Navy is used to having a top running attack, but losing their top two rushers from 2012 will be a huge blow.

PREDICTION: Navy 7, Notre Dame 24

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Nov. 9: at Pittsburgh

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in the lackluster Big East last season proved that Pittsburgh still has a ways to go in order be back into conversations as a serious postseason contender. Although they made a bowl game last season, they finished in fifth place in the weakest conference in college football. However, there's always some sort of letdown game on every team's schedule.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 17, Pitt 21

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Nov. 23: BYU

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

BYU was a top-five defense in 2012, but losing Ziggy Ansah and Brandon Ogletree from the defensive line and linebacker position, respectively, will hurt the core of the defense a bit. Also losing key defensive back Preston Hadley, the Cougars look to rebuild their formidable squad around some key returning pieces.

PREDICTION: BYU 14, Notre Dame 31

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Nov. 30: Stanford

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a Rose Bowl win over the Wisconsin Badgers, Stanford is ranked as one of the top-10 teams in the nation. Returning quarterback Kevin Hogan but losing top rusher Stepfan Taylor will turn out to be mixed result. The Cardinal have once of the top defenses in the land, all they need is for their offense to catch up.

PREDICTION: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 17

Notre Dame finishes the season 9-3 and makes a strong case for a BCS bowl.