Heading into the 2012 college football season, Notre Dame is in a familiar position under third-year head coach Brian Kelly.
The team has yet to return to the national spotlight.
Kelly still has not decided on a quarterback.
Fans are still convinced that this will be the year.
And there continue to be off-the-field issues with key players to Notre Dame's hope at returning to glory.
Regardless of all these negatives, Notre Dame still has what it takes to compete at the highest level and return to a BCS bowl this season.
First, the schedule gives Notre Dame the opportunity to receive a BCS bowl bid if they can win nine or 10 games. The Irish's schedule is arguably the hardest in the country (Ole Miss has a tough one as well), with five of their opponents ranking in the Top 12 of ESPN's Mark Schlabach's preseason poll.
Next, Notre Dame has its special circumstance under the BCS system (which I believe is horrible) that, if it finishes in the Top Eight, the Irish are guaranteed a selection to a BCS Bowl. That shouldn't be too difficult if they can win nine or 10 games with their schedule.
Finally, the Irish return some key starters from last year on both sides of the ball that should help ease new starters into their roles. They have some major holes to fill in the secondary and at the quarterback position, but otherwise, this is a rather solid team with a chance at making unexpected strides this year.