Brian Kelly will try to get Notre Dame back to the National Championship Game after losing to Alabama last season. The Irish will face Arizona State, Southern Cal and Stanford this season in addition to other big names. Photo Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

2013 PAC-12 Know the Opponent: Notre Dame

When last we saw the Notre Dame Fighting Irish the Alabama Crimson Tide were running up and down the field in Miamon en route to the BCS National Title Game. Brian Kelly begins his fourth season in South Bend with a 28-11 record with three straight bowl appearances.

Notre Dame returns 14 starters from a season ago with six on offense and eight on what was a stingy defense. 38 letter winners also are back with 23 on the defensive side of the ball. In addition the Irish will have to replace Everett Golson who was dismissed from the team during the offseason.

Getting the first chance will be senior Tommy Rees who saw limited action in 2012 throwing for just 436 yards. Junior Andrew Hendrix will probably also figure into the competition or like last season an unknown like Golson could emerge.

The Irish will need to replace their top two running backs, junior George Atkinson who had 378 yards with five touchdowns is listed first on the depth chart. Fellow junior Cam McDaniel should get a chance at getting carries this fall after 126 yards on just 23 carries with a score.

Senior TJ Jones has the most returning experience for the receiving corps with 50 catches, 649 yards catching four TD’s. Sophomore DeVaris Daniels will also be a target having caught 31 passes for 490 yards.

On defense they lost their top two tacklers but will have plenty of depth to make up for the losses. Senior cornerback Bennett Jackson will anchor the unit with his returning 65 tackles and four interceptions. Fellow senior and weak side linebacker Dan Fox returns after recording 63 tackles last year.

Notre Dame went perfect last season but got all they wanted against their traditional PAC-12 opponents Stanford (won 20-13 in OT) and at Southern California (won 22-13). They’ll again face a challenging schedule with schools from all over the country which includes six home games, five on the road plus a neutral site game.

Three PAC-12 schools appear on the Irish schedule starting with Arizona State in Arlington on Saturday, October 5 at 4:30 pm on NBC. Two weeks later October 19 they host USC also at 4:30 pm on NBC. They’ll close the season at Stanford on Saturday, November 30 with kickoff TBA with FOX schedule to broadcast the game.

Fighting Irish 2013 schedule: Aug. 31 v. Temple, Sept. 7 @Michigan, Sept. 14 @Purdue, Sept. 21 v. Michigan State, Sept. 28 v. Oklahoma, Oct. 5 v. Arizona State (Cowboys Stadium/Arlington, TX), Oct. 19 v. Southern California, Oct. 26 @Air Force, Nov. 2 v. Navy, Nov. 9 @Pittsburgh, Nov. 23 v. BYU, Nov. 30 @Stanford

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Tags: Arizona State Sun Devils Brian Kelly Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pac-12 Southern California Trojans Stanford Cardinal

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