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Staff Predictions: 2013 Season

Football Beat Writers | Thursday, April 18, 2013

Andrew Gastelum, Editor-in-Chief

Last year, in this spot, this dude predicted 9-3 for the 2012 Irish and was ridiculed. Somehow I was still wrong, just not by overestimating.
Now, 9-3 may be a bit of a disappointment. In fact, there are five legitimate toss-up games when looking at the 2013 schedule.
This Irish team has a similar look to 2012. Eyes are on the secondary and receivers, a hearty September that could set the tone, a midseason confidence booster and a West Coast showdown finale. But this Notre Dame team now has expectations in the form of a repainted target on its back.
Sure, 7-5 is a possibility, but last year proved 12-0 sure is, too. A BCS bowl for the Irish is the most realistic possibility, but the BCS National Championship Game has the same odds as the Hawaii Bowl. Expectations go a  long way in Year Four.


Matthew DeFranks, Assistant Managing Editor

I’m having a tough time gauging this year’s team. The schedule is similar to last year’s, but the lucky breaks probably won’t be. The defense lost senior leaders in all three position groups, while the offense lost its top two rushers and top receiver. But last year’s team did make it to the BCS National Championship Game when expectations were about as low as they can be.
A more mature and comfortable Everett Golson will command his offense with authority and accuracy as a bevy of running backs and receivers step in to make up for the losses of Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and Tyler Eifert. The defensive line only got deeper and a young secondary is now a year older. Every game on the schedule is winnable, and it helps to have Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC all at home this year. I just don’t know how much of last year I can believe in.


Mike Monaco, Sports Editor

Though there’s practically no possible way the Irish extend the luck of 2012 into 2013, Notre Dame will benefit from what is an easier schedule, at least on paper.
I fully expect Everett Golson to excel in his second year at the helm of the offense, and I think the running backs and receivers will surprise some skeptics. The offense needs to find a red-zone threat to replace Tyler Eifert, but Corey Robinson has all the makings of a dominant goal-line target.
On defense, Manti Te’o seems irreplaceable. But coaches and players alike are raving about Jarrett Grace, and the defensive line and secondary are a year older.
Not all the breaks will go Notre Dame’s way, but the Irish should be able to go 3-1 against Michigan, Oklahoma, USC and Stanford and take care of business elsewhere en route to another BCS game.


Joseph Monardo, Associate Sports Editor

Logic dictates the defense will almost surely take a step back from the unit that was among the nation’s best last season. In its favor, the squad will have a plethora of options and three proven starters in what could be a very strong secondary.
Everett Golson will sorely miss Tyler Eifert, and the quarterback will have to take a big step forward without his tight end if the Irish hope to compete once again for the title.
Heading to Michigan in Week Two will not be easy, and facing a one-year-older Marqise Lee should scare all Irish fans.    
And then there is Stanford. If it seems just about everything broke right last year, it hardly seems reasonable to expect the same good fortune again. But if the Irish bully Michigan, they could be on their way to another undefeated season, one much less improbable than the last.  


Jack Hefferon, Sports Writer

The dozen heart attacks that led to a 12-0 record in 2012 were truly a once-in-a-lifetime run, but that doesn’t mean Notre Dame will plunge back into irrelevancy this year.
The defense will miss Manti Te’o as its leader, but a dominant line and more experienced secondary will help the unit remain one of the nation’s best.
The offense will have a tougher time replacing sure-handed targets Tyler Eifert and Robby Toma, and a younger line will be called upon to establish a run game that can put points on the board and take some pressure off Everett Golson.
The luck of the Irish may not be up for another undefeated season, but this team’s skill will get it close enough. Brian Kelly’s squad will navigate another brutal schedule and, come January, will celebrate the program’s first BCS bowl win.