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The last six games of the season don't get much easier. In fact, they are as difficult as the first six if not tougher.
Notre Dame starts the stretch versus USC, Navy, away versus Wake Forest, then Maryland, Boston College and at Stanford.
The three games to worry about are USC, Navy and Stanford, although Maryland will be a difficult matchup for the Irish as well.
The game at USC last season was close. Tommy Rees wasn't perfect in any sense of the word, and the Irish had terrible field position all game, but stellar defense and a little luck helped the Irish get a victory.
USC has a ton of talent this year, although it might not be as tough as last season if Dayne Crist can stay healthy and the Irish can win the field position battle.
Navy and their option attack have embarrassed the Irish two seasons in a row. Notre Dame knows exactly what Navy will throw at them, and even though the offensive linemen are undersized, there is no substitute for tenacity.
The Irish shouldn't lose to Navy three years in a row, but with the discipline they play with, the Irish won't be taking this game lightly.
The most important game of the season just happens to be the last contest. The Irish were dominated by Stanford last season. Stanford just was the more physical team. If the Irish can get to Palo Alto undefeated, Stanford will be the only thing standing in the way of getting to the National Championship game.
Andrew Luck has already been declared the No. 1 draft pick for next year, but without JIm Harbaugh, Stanford and Luck might not be able to recapture the magic from last season.
The Irish have 12 challenging, but very winnable games. No one knows if the Irish can go undefeated, but this year the team has as good of a chance as any to do so.