Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 – Team #10




#10 – Notre Dame Fightin Irish
South Bend, Indiana
Notre Dame Stadium (80,795)
2013 Record: 9-4

Notre Dame went undefeated and played in the National Championship in 2012 and even though they were defeated handily by Alabama; they were primed to have another good season. Then disaster struck when quarterback Everett Golson was kicked off the team for academic reasons. So heading into the 2013 season, Notre Dame didn’t have their starting quarterback and lost multiple defensive starters. In Golson’s absence, Tommy Rees performed admirably, throwing for 3257 yards and 27 touchdowns and the offense averaged almost 28 points per game. Even still with all the key absences on offense and defense, the Irish still won 9 games with losses to Michigan, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Stanford.

Everett Golson will be back under center at Notre Dame in 2014.
Everett Golson will be back under center at Notre Dame in 2014.

Quarterback Everett Golson returns in 2014 to an offense with 3 of the top 4 runningbacks including yardage leader from last season Cam McDaniel who had over 700 yards rushing but only 3 rushing touchdowns. As a team, the Irish only scored 12 rushing touchdowns in 2013 which put them in the bottom 25 teams in the country in that category. The runningbacks will be running behind an offensive line that returns 3 starters from a year ago and with Golson back in the backfield, I expect Notre Dame to improve their rushing attack immensely. Notre Dame does lose their top wide receiver in TJ Jones but return a whole stable of big time playmakers like DaVaris Daniels (745 yards, 7 TD’s) and tight end Ben Koyak who caught 3 touchdown passes last season. Defensively, Notre Dame will need to replace a lot of key pass rushers but head coach Brian Kelly has recruited extremely well on the defensive side of the ball in South Bend despite being an offensive coach. New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will find that the cupboard is not bare as the recruiting class from a year ago will include linebacker Niles Morgan who will be able to contribute right away at middle linebacker. The Fightin Irish do return 5 starters from a year ago including sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith who, as a freshman, recorded 67 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. The front seven will all mostly be new faces to Irish fans but the starting secondary returns 3 of 4 starters from a squad that held opposing offenses to under an average of under 200 passing yards per game.

Yet again the Fightin Irish enter the season with the most difficult schedule

Jaylon Smith could be the next great defender at Notre Dame.
Jaylon Smith could be the next great defender at Notre Dame.

in the country according to the preseason polls and last season’s records. There is no game in Dublin, Ireland, this season but there are 11 bowl teams from 2013 including the reigning national champion Florida State Seminoles as Notre Dame enters their first season as partial ACC members. Notre Dame will open the season against Rice at home and then welcome rival Michigan to the South Bend on Sept 6th. Following the game with the Wolverines, Notre Dame will travel to their first of three neutral site games in 2014 to Indianapolis to play Purdue. The other two neutral site games for Notre Dame are September 27th against Syracuse in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and November 1st against the Naval Academy in Landover, Maryland, at FedEx Field. Notre Dame faces a tough stretch in October with back-to-back home dates with Stanford and North Carolina (two teams picked to win their respective conference divisions) followed by a road trip to Tallahassee to face the Seminoles of Florida State. The month of November doesn’t get much easier with west coast road trips to Arizona State and USC sandwiched around home dates with Northwestern and Louisville.

The fact that Notre Dame finished the 2013 season with 9 wins is a testament to how good of a coach Brian Kelly really is and now he has his star quarterback Everett Golson back in a golden dome. Notre Dame will once again be able to compete with any team in the country especially after going through a season last year with so much turnover on the field and staff. Notre Dame will be that team in 2014 that comes out of nowhere to finish in the top ten. Solid quarterback play, weapons at the skill positions, really good coaching and a defense that will only get better and better as the season goes on will be the keys to Notre Dame’s success in 2014. It is a big if, but if Notre Dame can get to November undefeated or with only one loss, they could be in the discussion for a spot in the new College Football Playoff in the first year.

Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Stadium

Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #9 on Tuesday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #9: This team officially got their nickname after a 0-0 tie in 1920.

#9 – ???????????????
#10 – Notre Dame Fightin Irish
#11 – USC Trojans
#12 – LSU Tigers
#13 – Michigan State Spartans
#14 – South Carolina Gamecocks
#15 – Ole Miss Rebels
#16 – Wisconsin Badgers
#17 – Stanford Cardinal
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 – Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 – Michigan Wolverines




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