Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE E valuating Notre Dame's place in the hierarchy of college football always makes for great barstool banter. It's a favorite preseason pas- time among Irish fans. An undefeated regular season and a national title game appearance in 2012 — sandwiched in between a five-loss season in 2011 and a four- loss season in 2013 — complicates the annual debate. And while the arguments over Notre Dame's place among the nation's elite teams will go on, its aggressive scheduling philoso- phy can never be questioned. This year 's 12-game slate for the Irish — who are No. 17 in the pre- season USA Today coaches' poll — includes a game at top-ranked Flor- ida State, two more games against top-15 teams (No. 11 Stanford and No. 15 USC), plus another pair versus top-25 foes (No. 18 Arizona State and No. 23 North Carolina). In addition, Michigan, Louisville and Northwest- ern each received some votes, giving Notre Dame eight opponents consid- ered in the coaches' poll. "Expectations and opportunities are what make being at Notre Dame so great," said head coach Brian Kelly, whose strength of schedule routinely ranks among the best in the country. "That's what energizes our players and coaches and everyone as we em- bark on another year." So let's go game by game and see what Notre Dame is up against. Op- ponent records are from 2013. AUG. 30: VS. RICE (10-4) While many Irish opponents open up against teams such as Appalachian State, Weber State and UC Davis, Notre Dame takes on a 10-win team and reigning Conference USA champion from 2013. (ND 34, Rice 17) SEPT. 6: VS. MICHIGAN (7-6) This primetime game holds added incentive be- cause it's the last meeting between these rivals A Tough 2014 Schedule Will Lead To Four Losses Head coach Brian Kelly views Notre Dame's diffi- cult slate this fall as a welcome challenge. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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