According to Phil Steele, Notre Dame Football plays the 4th toughest schedule in the country in 2014. It is easy to determine who the toughest opponent is, Florida State. The Seminoles return the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and many of the players who won the National Champion last year. Here are the toughest opponents on the 2014 schedule, 4-1:
4. Notre Dame at Arizona State – Tempe, Arizona (Sun Devil Stadium) – November 8th, TBA
Arizona State returns the corps of their offense: Quarterback Taylor Kelly, Running Back D.J. Foster and Wide Receiver Jaelen Strong. However, they lost a lot on defense including All-American Defensive Tackle Will Sutton. Arizona State will be potent on offense again. They will out score many teams like they did in 2013. If Notre Dame has any defense at all, this should assist the Irish in a victory. If not, they will have to win a shoot out. Notre Dame’s offense may be ready for that with Quarterback Everett Golson, Running Backs Tarearn Folston and Greg Bryant, and a potent receiving corps.
3. Stanford at Notre Dame – South Bend, Indiana (Notre Dame Stadium) – October 4th, 3:30 pm. ET
Under Brian Kelly, the Fighting Irish only beat Stanford in 2012. However, the Irish have stayed close with the Cardinal in 2011 and 2013. Stanford may be considered a Top 10 team by many. However, they only return 12 starters. On Defense, the Cardinal lost Linebackers Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy and Defensive End Ben Gardner. Will the Stanford Cardinal be the same type of power team that they have been since 2009 in 2014?
2. Notre Dame at USC – Los Angeles, California (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) – November 29th, TBA
Notre Dame has beaten USC three of the last four seasons. The Irish defeated the Trojans last season despite not being able to muster anything on offense due to injury to Tommy Rees. Despite all of their turmoil, they did win 10 games last season. They will have one of the best defenses in the country. They return 8 players on that side of the football. The only question for the Trojans and their sanction riddled roster is whether or not they have enough depth to play at a championship level all season.
1. Notre Dame at Florida State – Tallahassee, Florida (Doak Campbell Stadium) – October 18th, TBA
Florida State is the top team in the country and the defending national title. The Seminoles return Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston. However, they only return 13 of 22 starters from the National Title team. Will they be able to be the same team who finished 2nd in the nation in scoring and 1st in the nation in points allowed? This should be the toughest game since Notre Dame played Alabama in BCS National Title Game.
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