Apr 12, 2014; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) looks to throw the ball during the spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football: Irish Schedule Ranked By Difficulty


The Notre Dame Football schedule may one of the toughest in some time. The Irish are facing 10 teams that went to bowl games last season and the national champion. Here is Notre Dame’s schedule 1-12:

1. Florida State

The Seminoles lose a significant amount of NFL talent on defensive side of the football, however, they have enough young talent available to make up for it. More importantly, the ‘Noles return Heisman trophy winning Quarterback Jameis Winston. Notre Dame-Florida State will be one of the biggest games of the year and the most difficult for Notre Dame.

2. Stanford

Stanford has been the thorn in Notre Dame’s side since 2009. Since that time, the Irish have dropped four of five to the Cardinal. The Cardinal lose a significant amount of talent on defense but return starting Quarterback Kevin Hogan. David Shaw should be able to recreate a team that has gone to “BCS” games over the past four years.

3. USC

The Trojans went 7-2 after Kiffin was fired last season. Sarkisian was fairly successful at Washington. He should be able to parlay USC’s talent into a very good team by the end of the season when Notre Dame travels to Los Angles to play the Trojans.

4. Michigan

This game could easily be moved to the top slot based on the emotion that it will be played under. Michigan introduces Doug Nussmeier as the offensive coordinator. Will he be able to make Devin Gardner into viable weapon? As Notre Dame fans saw last year, when he Gardner plays well, he can carry a team.

5. Arizona State

The Sun Devils are a difficult team to project for the 2014 season. They return the core of their offensive: Quarterback Taylor Kelly, Running Back D.J. Forster and Wide Receiver Jalen Strong. However, Arizona State only returns 2 starters on defense. But, no one would ever accuse the Sun Devils of trying to win a game defensively. Arizona State was +15 in the turnover margin, which ranked them 7th in the country. Arizona State will still be a very quality opponent but they will definitely take a step back.

6. Louisville

Louisville loses Charlie Strong and gains Bobby Petrino. This is Petrino’s second stint at Louisville. In his first stint at Louisville, Petrino went 41-9. The Cardinals will need to replace Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. More importantly, the Cardinals will need to rebuild a defense that finished 2nd in scoring defense and 1st in total defense.

7. North Carolina

North Carolina finished with a flurry of wins at the end of the 2013 season. They found their Quarterback in 6-2 215 lbs. Junior Marquise Williams. A dual-threat Quarterback has always been a problem for Notre Dame. Williams rushed for 536 yards in 2013. This could be harder for Notre Dame than it needs to be for that reason.

8. Syracuse

Syracuse returns 14 starters from its 2013 squad. However, the 2013 squad was not very good. That team only won 6 games, 5 against FBS teams. The team really struggled to score, only averaging 22.7 points per game. The Orange should be better than last year but that still should be mediocre.

9. Navy

The Midshipmen return 15 starters from a team that won 9 games including the Armed Forces Bowl. More importantly, Navy returns Quarterback Keenan Reynolds, which is important for any team. But, it is even more important for the Naval Academy’s triple option attack. This game may be #9 on the list but if it is within a touchdown by the 4th Quarterback it might as well be #1.

10. Northwestern

Northwestern suffered perhaps the most irritating season, losing 7 games. Most of the games were lost during the last minutes of the game. Northwestern returns 16 players from that team. Quarterback Trevor Siemian now must be “the man” instead of a tag team player with former player Kain Colter.

11. Purdue 

It’s amazing that Notre Dame struggled with Purdue like they did last season; sneaking out a 31-24 victory. The Boilermakers only had one more game that was that close, a 20-16 loss to Illinois. The Boilermakers finished the season with only one win, a 6 point victory over FCS Indiana State. The Boilermakers will now turn to Danny Etling who took over mid-way through the 2013 season. It will probably get better for Purdue, but it cannot get much worse.

12. Rice

The Owls flew to a 10-4 season and C-USA Championship last season. However, they will lose about half of that team and most importantly Running Back Charles Ross and Quarterback Taylor McHargue. Rice flourishes on its ability to run the football. It sets the rest of the team up for success. Without Ross and McHargue, the team will probably struggle. But, Notre Dame likes to get cute with inferior opponents in openers so they may appear like that 10-4 Rice team.

Tags: Featured Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish Popular