Sep 7, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Devin Funchess (87) is unable to make a catch while being defended by Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Matthias Farley (41) during the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football: Counting Down Notre Dame’s Toughest Opponents, The "In-Between" Games

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, 8-5:

8. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse – East Rutherford, N.J. (MetLife Stadium) – September 27th, TBA

Syracuse returns most of a squad that won the Texas Bowl last season. The game will be played on a neutral field in East Rutherford, NJ. Despite being a Syracuse home game, Notre Dame should have a large contingent from New York and New Jersey on hand. The Irish are probably a touchdown or better than Syracuse at least.

7. Notre Dame vs. Navy – Landover, Maryland (FedEx Field) – November 1st, TBA

Navy should be an improved football team this season. That may spell trouble for a Notre Dame team that snuck away with a 38-34 victory in South Bend. Keenan Reynolds returns at Quarterback for the Midshipmen. How will new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder handle the Naval Academy’s triple option?

6. Michigan at Notre Dame – South Bend, Indiana (Notre Dame Stadium) – September 6th, 7:30 ET

Under Brian Kelly, the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry games have been decided by an average of 6.5 points. There is no doubt that this game will be close as well. Home field advantage at night gives Notre Dame the edge. In a rivalry game, anything can happen. So, this game could easily be number one on the list.

5. North Carolina at Notre Dame – South Bend, Indiana (Notre Dame Stadium) – October 11th, 3:30 ET

The Battle of Elijah Hood. The Tar Heels won 6 of 7 under the direction of Quarterback Marquise Williams. The Tar Heels finished 7-6 overall. So, who are the Tar Heels? A 1-5 team or a 6-1 team.

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