Tomahawk Nation is setting up preview pages for each of Florida State's football opponents. This is the page for Notre Dame. The Irish travel to Tallahassee on October 18.
I believe this is a top-20 level team, but its wicked schedule might not contain enough automatic wins to see the Irish finish in that range. Keep in mind that only a handful of teams have brought in a higher percentage of four- and five-star recruits over the last four years.
Here's Bill Connelly on Notre Dame's schedule. Please do read all of Connelly's excerpts at the link here.
But while Notre Dame's schedule isn't always as difficult as some think it is, this year's slate is meaty. Three projected top-10 opponents (two on the road), four more opponents projected between 11th and 35th, and perhaps most importantly, only one opponent projected worse than 67th. Consistency will be huge for the Irish in 2014, because a down week probably means a loss.
Notre Dame gets its quarterback back this year off suspension, and it should have one of, if not the best offensive line FSU faces all year.
Despite quite a bit of shuffling, despite youth, despite Tommy Rees' tendency to look downfield a lot, and despite a lack of explosiveness at the running back position, Notre Dame's offensive line thrived in 2013. The Irish were one of seven offenses to rank in the top 25 for both Adj. Line Yards and Adj. Sack Rate -- the others: Texas A&M, Northern Illinois, Miami, Florida State, Arkansas, and Duke -- and while those ratings reflect on more than just the linemen themselves, that's rather impressive.
The Irish do have to replace two longtime starters on the left side; Zack Martin was a four-year starter and Notre Dame's lone first-round pick in last week's draft, and Chris Watt was a three-year starter.
But one has to be enamored with the potential. Sophomores Ronnie Stanley and Steve Elmer are keepers, the experience level is still solid (six players with starting experience, 54 career starts), and there are plenty of high-ceiling newcomers who could end up on the two-deep: Hunter Bivin, John Monteus, Mike McGlinchey (a projected starter at the end of spring), Quenton Nelson, Alex Bars, etc. Martin and Watt were good, but it still seems the line will be a major strength.
ESPN gives Notre Dame a one (1) percent chance to make the playoff. This is the bottom line from a nice preview by ESPN.
Notre Dame had more players drafted this offseason than in any season since 1994, and even the absences of players who won't be playing on Sundays this season will be felt. The Fighting Irish lose one of the top passers in team history (Tommy Rees), two prolific touchdown-scorers in Troy Niklas and TJ Jones, the team's second-leading rusher last year (George Atkinson III), two of the top 10 sack leaders in team history (Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo) and the team's career leader in starts (Zack Martin). According to Notre Dame's athletic department, the Irish lose 100 percent of their passing yards, 72.8 percent of their receiving yards, 52 percent of their scoring, 73.4 percent of their total yards, 60.4 percent of their all-purpose yards and 76.2 percent of their sacks. They have stockpiled recruiting talent over the years, but this mountain of personnel losses could be too high for a championship team to climb.