Notre Dame is coming off a breakthrough season that saw it reach the BCS title game for the first time, and the team may be headed for more big things in 2013. The schedule presents some challenging road games, though, and there are roster questions -- the loss of quarterback Everett Golson, who was an academic casualty, adds a layer of unpredictability to the year ahead for Notre Dame.
2013 Notre Dame schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The challenges begin to mount quickly, with an early road trip to Ann Arbor as well as home games against Michigan State and Oklahoma coming in September. Some schools have the luxury of easing into the season with a light September, but Notre Dame isn't one of them.
The tough stretch continues with Arizona State and USC in October, and only after those contests do the Irish get something resembling a break. The good news for Notre Dame is that its defense should be outstanding once again, and that will help the team weather these difficult matchups. The Irish may not be so fortunate as to run the table the way they did a season ago, but it's a fair bet that defense will give them an opportunity to win plenty.
Notre Dame closes its regular season with perhaps the toughest game on the schedule -- a road trip to Stanford, which should be a primary contender for the Pac-12 title. Stanford is one of seven teams on Notre Dame's schedule projected to be among the nation's top 35.