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NCAA Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Football: Looking Ahead at the 2014 Schedule

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A Game-by-Game Look at Notre Dame's Upcoming Season

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Notre Dame had another successful but frustrating season in 2013. On one hand, the Fighting Irish were the only team to beat Michigan State (17-13). But late losses to Pitt and Stanford cost Notre Dame any BCS hopes and a 9-4 season culminated in an unsatisfying win over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. The new ACC influence in the Notre Dame schedule makes 2014 even more interesting. Here's a game-by-game look at how the Fighting Irish will do.

Game 1: vs. Rice, Aug. 30

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Game 1: vs. Rice, Aug. 30

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This is a nice curtain-raiser for the Irish against a Rice team that did go to a bowl last season but disappointed in the Liberty Bowl with a 44-7 loss to Mississippi State. The Owls went 10-4 in 2013, but Kansas was the only former BCS conference school Rice beat (23-14). Notre Dame should have a nice, easy opener in front of the home fans. WIN (1-0).

Game 2: vs. Michigan, Sept. 6

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Game 2: vs. Michigan, Sept. 6

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Having Rice to open the season is also a good idea, because Game 2 is a big one at home with Michigan. Notre Dame lost this game at the Big House last season, 41-30. The Wolverines have won four of the last five in the series, but the Fighting Irish won the last one played in South Bend, 13-6 in 2012. A great test for both teams ends in a narrow Notre Dame WIN. (2-0)

Game 3: vs. Purdue, Sept. 13 (at Indianapolis)

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Game 3: vs. Purdue, Sept. 13 (at Indianapolis)

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Notre Dame's first of back-to-back neutral site games takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in Week 3 when the Fighting Irish take on Purdue. The Boilermakers had one of their most dreadful seasons ever in 2013, going 1-11 with no wins against FBS competition. But the game against the Fighting Irish was close (31-24). This one may be too, but there's no reason to think the Irish will lose. WIN (3-0)

Game 4: vs. Syracuse, Sept. 27 (at East Rutherford, N.J.)

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Game 4: vs. Syracuse, Sept. 27 (at East Rutherford, N.J.)

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Even when Notre Dame goes on the road, the Fighting Irish don't really go on the road. Instead of playing the Orange in the Carrier Dome, Notre Dame and Syracuse will meet at MetLife Stadium, the home of the NFL's New York Jets and Giants. These teams haven't met since 2008, a 24-23 Orange win in South Bend. Syracuse is one of four ACC opponents for Notre Dame this season. Syracuse must improve greatly to beat ND in this spot. WIN (4-0)

Game 5: vs. Stanford, Oct. 4

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Game 5: vs. Stanford, Oct. 4

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Hey look, the Fighting Irish are back home again! Still yet to play a true road game and to this point undefeated, Notre Dame will be media darlings by this point when Stanford comes to South Bend. These teams have met every year since 1997, and the Cardinal have won five of the last six. The Fighting Irish needed OT to beat Stanford at home in 2012 (20-13). This could be a top-10 battle, but the undefeated dream ends here for ND. LOSS (4-1)

Game 6: vs. North Carolina, Oct. 11

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Game 6: vs. North Carolina, Oct. 11

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Another ACC opponent awaits the Fighting Irish as they collect themselves following the first loss of the 2014 season. North Carolina is ranked 22nd in the preseason USA Today poll (Notre Dame is 17), but the Tar Heels will have just played at Clemson and home to Virginia Tech prior to this game. Worn out and perhaps physically beaten up, the Irish take advantage and get back on the right track here. WIN (5-1)

Game 7: at Florida State, Oct. 18

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Game 7: at Florida State, Oct. 18

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Well, if the Fighting Irish were going to wait until Week 7 for a true road game, they couldn't have picked a tougher trip. Florida State are the defending national champions, had the nation's best scoring defense in 2013 and should probably be 6-0 entering this game. As good as ND may be, it's really hard to see them going to Tallahassee and winning. LOSS (5-2)

Game 8: vs. Navy, Nov. 1 (at Landover, Md.)

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Game 8: vs. Navy, Nov. 1 (at Landover, Md.)

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Following Notre Dame's second bye week of the season, the Fighting Irish play another "away" game that isn't a true road game. Such is life when you are an alleged national power that hasn't won a national title since 1988. Notre Dame routed Navy in 2012 and 2013 after Navy captured wins the two previous years. Notre Dame edged Navy, 38-34, last season. Navy (9-4 in '13) is always tough but will come up just short here. WIN (6-2)

Game 9: at Arizona State, Nov. 8

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Game 9: at Arizona State, Nov. 8

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The first of two west-coast roadies for Notre Dame to end the season finds the Fighting Irish at Arizona State. These teams played a really good game in South Bend last season, with the Fighting Irish prevailing, 37-34. ASU would go on to win 10 games, but lost to both Stanford (Pac-12 final) and Texas Tech (Holiday Bowl) to end the season. ASU's offense might be too much here at home. LOSS (6-3)

Game 10: vs. Northwestern, Nov. 15

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Game 10: vs. Northwestern, Nov. 15

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Notre Dame and Northwestern haven't met since the Wildcats' resurgence in the mid-90s when Northwestern won, 17-15, at Notre Dame to begin the 1995 season on its way to a Big 10 championship and appearance in the Rose Bowl. Those days are long off now, however, and the Wildcats were just 5-7 in 2013, 1-7 in the Big 10. This game will be a good tonic for Notre Dame after the Arizona State loss. WIN (7-3)

Game 11: vs. Louisville, Nov. 22

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Game 11: vs. Louisville, Nov. 22

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This would have been such a fun game in 2013. But head coach Charlie Strong (Texas) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (NFL) have both left Louisville, and the Cardinals have some serious rebuilding to do in their first year in the ACC. They should be well adjusted by this point but not likely strong enough to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. WIN (8-3)

Game 12: at USC, Nov. 29

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Game 12: at USC, Nov. 29

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Once the rulers of the nation, USC has fallen to perhaps being second-fiddle in Los Angeles behind the UCLA Bruins. That has played out in part in the Notre Dame series as well, with the Fighting Irish winning three of the last four after the Trojans had won eight in a row from 2002-09. The games have been tight defensive battles of late. USC is now in the rare position of having to prove they can win games like this. Advantage: ND. WIN (9-3)