Notre Dame Football: Pinpointing Top Tests on Fighting Irish's 2013 Schedule

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Notre Dame Football: Pinpointing Top Tests on Fighting Irish's 2013 Schedule
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a loss in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, and the expectations for this season are much higher after last year’s success.

With one of the toughest schedules in college football, Notre Dame will face some serious tests over the course of the regular season.

All stats and schedule information via Rivals.com

 

Notre Dame's 2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 31, 2013 Temple (NBC) 3:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 7, 2013 at Michigan (ABC) TBA
Sept. 14, 2013 at Purdue (ABC) TBA
Sept. 21, 2013 Michigan State (NBC) 3:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 28, 2013 Oklahoma (NBC) 3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2013 at Arizona State (NBC) 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19, 2013 USC (NBC) 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 26, 2013 at Air Force (CBS Sports Network) 5:00 p.m. ET
Nov. 2, 2013 Navy (NBC) 3:30 p.m. ET
Nov. 9, 2013 at Pittsburgh (ABC) TBA
Nov. 23, 2013 BYU (NBC) 3:30 p.m. ET
Nov. 30, 2013 at Stanford (FOX) TBA

 

Fight Irish’s Biggest Tests of 2013

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Saturday, Nov. 30: Notre Dame at Stanford Cardinal

The toughest matchup for the Fighting Irish will be their November matchup with the always-tough Stanford Cardinal. As one of the best teams in the Pac-12—a unique blend of tough defense and a potent, run-first offense—Stanford will push Notre Dame to its limit.

The Irish lost their defensive leader, Manti Te’o, to the NFL draft (second-round pick of the San Diego Chargers), and it will be up to the linebacker tandem of Prince Shembo and Jarrett Grace to fill the void against the Stanford rushing attack led by seniors Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney.

Notre Dame will be dependent on its own running game, led by George Atkinson III, to break the will of the Cardinal and force them on their heels. If Atkinson can thrive in the starting role, the team will be in contention for the victory.

Stanford had one of the best defenses in the NCAA last year (11th in the nation, allowing just 17.2 points per game), but the Irish need to attack the middle of the unit with a consistent ground assault.

 

Brett Deering/Getty Images

Saturday, Sept. 28: Oklahoma Sooners at Notre Dame

The Oklahoma Sooners and Fighting Irish have both undergone major transformations under center during the offseason. While Landry Jones entered the NFL (Pittsburgh Steelers), Notre Dame faced the removal of last year’s starter, Everett Golson, from the team.

With each team boasting a new starter this season—Oklahoma is likely to start Blake Bell, while Notre Dame will likely ride Tommy Rees into Week 1—the growing pains could make this one of the most unpredictable matchups on the schedule.

The difference in this meeting could come down to the team with the most consistent performance from the wide receivers. While the Sooners have a talented group led by Jalen Saunders, it will be  TJ Jones of the Fighting Irish that is the ultimate difference maker.

This game will be the quintessential Saturday-night shootout.

 

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