One of the most unique aspects of Notre Dame's historic tradition is playing one of the nation's most challenging schedules, and the Irish's 2013 slate has only reinforced that notion.
Per college football expert and ESPN Insider Phil Steele, Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally in preseason strength of schedule.
Factoring into that ranking are the four preseason AP Top 25 teams among the Irish's 12 regular-season opponents—No. 24 USC, No. 17 Michigan, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 4 Stanford.
How Notre Dame fares against that quartet of ranked foes will be a telling factor in the team's postseason fate, which, also per Steele, is a return trip to the BCS.
For a forecast of those four matchups, as well as the other eight contests, follow along.