Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2014

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY DAN MURPHY S ix is the number to know for Notre Dame's 2014 schedule. Six of the 27 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision that finished with double-digit victories in 2013 will play the Irish next fall. Six teams — although not the same six — landed in the top 25 of at least one major media outlet's post-spring foot- ball rankings. And six schools are on the schedule that Notre Dame did not face last year, four of them thanks to the school's new partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference. And lastly, six teams out of the 11 Notre Dame has previously faced handed the Irish a loss in their most recent meeting. Notre Dame will get a chance to set- tle some old scores while navigating a typically tricky path through talented opponents in 2014. Here's how they shaped up after a busy spring season. RICE • AUG. 30 2013 RECORD: 10-4, 7-1 Conference USA LAST MEETING: Notre Dame 54, Rice 11 (1988) TOUGHEST TO REPLACE: Running back Charles Ross was the engine that drove Rice's offense during its 17 wins in the last two seasons. As a senior, he ran for a team-high 1,280 yards and 16 touchdowns. With four-year starter Taylor McHargue also departing the quarterback spot, the Owls have some major reconstruction to do if they're going to approach last season's aver- age of 227 rushing yards per game again in 2014. TOP NEWCOMER: A hamstring injury kept wide receiver Temi Alaka off the field as a freshman. He was healthy this spring and showed that he could be a strong complement to returning starter Jordan Taylor. Alaka made four catches — two of them for touch- downs — for 134 yards during Rice's spring game in April. A productive year could spread opposing defenses thin in the passing game. SPRING OUTLOOK: Consistency was the buzzword in the locker room during Rice's spring practice this year. The SCORES TO SETTLE Notre Dame can seek some vengeance for old losses while it dips its toe in ACC waters for the first time in 2014

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