A year after running the table and reaching the BCS National Championship Game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to navigate a challenging schedule while living up to lofty expectations in the process.
Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish will kick off their 2013 campaign at home against Temple on Aug. 31, nearly eight months after their 28-point loss to Alabama in January's title game. Will the Irish rebound and pick up where they left off last November, or will 2013 remind Notre Dame what it's like to lose?
That remains to be seen for now, but below we'll take a closer look at a trio of must-see matchups for Notre Dame fans this coming season.
Sept. 7: At Michigan Wolverines
Notre Dame vs. Michigan is one of the top rivalries in college football right now, and 2013's battle is sure to live up to the hype.
The Fighting Irish will travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor this fall, where they'll look to make it two in a row over the Wolverines. Notre Dame survived a grueling matchup in South Bend a year ago, taking advantage of six Michigan turnovers to win 13-6.
Last year's showdown in Indiana was featured on Saturday night prime time, and this year will be no different as fans around the country can tune in at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN to catch the action.
This must-see matchup is Notre Dame's second of the season, but will also serve as the squad's first true test of 2013 following a season-opener against Temple.
Sept. 28: Vs. Oklahoma Sooners
On the final weekend of September, the Irish will play host to the Oklahoma Sooners, who will have revenge on their minds following a 30-13 defeat in Norman last October.
Oklahoma appeared to be in great shape after tying the game at 13-13 with under 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter of that tilt. But Notre Dame would outscore the Big 12 powerhouse 17-0 in the game's final five minutes to run away with a convincing road win.
In 2013, Bob Stoops and the Sooners will aim to do the same in South Bend.
Oklahoma was a 10-win team a season ago and recruits topflight talent year after year. Notre Dame will play six home games in 2013, but this showdown with the Sooners promises to be the toughest.
Oct. 19: Vs. USC Trojans
Notre Dame and USC have met more than 80 times on the gridiron dating back to the 1920s, and 2013 marks the 85th meeting between these two storied programs.
Which game are you most excited for in 2013?
The Irish have won two of the last three meetings, but haven't beaten the Trojans in South Bend in 12 years. To put those struggles in perspective, Notre Dame last defeated USC in front of its home crowd in 2001 in Bob Davie's final season. The program has had three different coaches since then.
On Oct. 19, USC will put its five-game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium on the line. The Irish will be coming off of a bye week, while the Trojans will have had over a week to rest themselves coming off a Thursday night clash with Arizona.
Keep in mind that Notre Dame leads the overall head-to-head between these two teams 44-35-5.
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