Notre Dame's football program experienced a resurgence in 2012, but fans shouldn't expect more of the same in 2013.
The Fighting Irish won't go undefeated heading into bowl season.
Looking closely at the team's schedule, in fact, Notre Dame will be lucky to escape with a record of 8-4, with these contests standing out as potential losses:
- @ Michigan
- Michigan State
Last season, Notre Dame won on the back of its No. 2-ranked defense which allowed just 12.77 points per game. Manti Te'o and Zeke Motta led the charge and led the team in tackles, and both of them are headed to the NFL in 2013.
Everett Golson and the team's offense only generated 25.77 points per game, which ranked No. 79 in the nation. Those figures were skewed a bit, as well, thanks to a couple of blowouts against sub-par competition.
Te'o and Motta won't be around to dominate on the defensive side of the ball. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood—the team's leading rushers last year—are both moving on, as well.
Oh, and don't forget about the top tight end in the NFL's 2013 draft class, Tyler Eifert. The amount of leadership and production that left after the 2012 season won't be easily replaced.
Golson should be better in 2013, and he'd better be if the Fighting Irish have a chance at all to field a team that makes noise in the postseason. That said, he doesn't have the same kind of support he had in 2012, and he's still a bit green, himself.
Notre Dame's 2012 season was like a magic carpet ride, with Te'o leading the way.
Things will be much tougher in 2013 for Brian Kelly's team, and the Fighting Irish won't experience the same highs they did a year ago.
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