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2013 Record: 9-4
Notre Dame's 2014 outlook is one of the more peculiar in the country.
The logical place to start is with the return of quarterback Everett Golson, who played a crucial role in ND's run to the 2012-13 national title game.
As the Fighting Irish welcome Golson back, they'll bid adieu to top playmaker TJ Jones, as well as their best offensive lineman, Zack Martin. However, ND will also bring back its entire running back corps.
The biggest questions will come on defense, where the Irish will lose several key contributors, including Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix, Bennett Jackson and Dan Fox.
It'll be on to the next wave of Notre Dame defenders, like Jaylon Smith and Elijah Shumate, to take on lead roles. The biggest obstacle for the Irish will be their schedule.
They'll take several top foes, including Stanford, Louisville and Michigan, at home—but they'll have to make trips to Florida State and Arizona State.
On a positive note, the College Football Playoff could play perfectly into the hands of Notre Dame. If the Irish post some big wins throughout the season and come to play their best football late in the season, they could very well sneak into the four-team bracket.