Notre Dame football has done a really impressive job maintaining unwanted media attention. From rough and ruthless criticism following an embarrassing National Championship blow out at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide to fake Internet girlfriends, the UND football squad cannot seem to stay out of the media’s negative light. This attention was a flick to the nose compared to the upper cut to the jaw the team faced after the starting quarterback was immediately dismissed from the school in May.
Everett Golson, Notre Dame’s starting sophomore quarterback who led the Fighting Irish to the National Championship game in 2012, was reported violating academic policy at the university. The school stated that Golson was no longer enrolled for the 2013-2014 academic year. Although the loss of Golson for the 2013 football season brings a state of concern, the gate has not fully closed for his possible reenrollment. Coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish are forced to battle negative media publicity amidst their quarterback dilemma. They must look to rising senior Tommy Rees to lead the offense.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior from Lake Forest, Ill. seems to be the best bet for another successful UND Fighting Irish football season. Rees started as a sophomore during the 2011 season finishing 8-4, earning a bowl game. He concluded that season with 269 complete passes out of 411 attempts, passed for 2,871 yards, and threw 20 touchdowns.
The Irish have no worries on defense as returning seniors Louis Nix and Bennett Jackson and junior Stephon Tuitt will hold the fort down for Rees. The defense totaled 9 fumbles and 16 interceptions in the 2012 season. Five of those interceptions came against No. 18 Michigan.
Call me crazy, but I believe with the strong leadership from veteran upperclassmen Rees and Coach Kelly the team can finish with an accomplishing 9-3 record, even though they face a difficult schedule compared to previous seasons. The Irish, according to ESPN, are ranked 10th in preseason rankings.
The schedule goes as followed. (Games played on NBC, ESPN, CBS, FOX and/or ABC.)
8/31 vs. Temple
-Win: The Fighting Irish will run up the scoreboard against the sometimes-lackadaisical Owl defense, while the defense tries forcing turnovers from senior veteran quarterback Chris Coyer.
9/7 at #9 Michigan
-Win: The Irish defense should be able to withstand the driving force of Devin Gardner, while the Michigan defense comes out somewhat shaky due to the loss of major players. With that, the Irish will limit the Wolverines points and add a few touchdowns to tally another ‘1’ towards the win column.
9/14 at Purdue
-Win: No doubt that the Irish will win this always-gritty battle between two Hoosier schools. With new Purdue coach Darrell Hazell mustarding up a new starting QB for the 2013 season, it seems the Boilermakers will need the defense to carry their weight to win this one. However, the game, being played at Ross Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind., will provide positive energy for the Boilermakers. Regardless, the strong defense for the Irish led by Jackson, Nix and Tuitt will negate any Purdue offensive advances.
9/21 vs. Michigan State
-Win: As always, the matchup between the Irish and Spartans will be a great one this season with senior QB Andrew Maxwell leading the Spartan offense. Although, this game will most likely be decided late in the fourth quarter or even overtime, the Irish will prevail with the help of their strong defense.
9/28 vs. #17 Oklahoma
-Loss: Yes, everyone remembers Texas A&M brutally defeating the sooners. However, the sooners are now overlooked which will prove evident after their defense holds back Irish offense while their offense pummels through the Irish defense.
10/5 vs. Arizona State
-Loss: ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back Marion Grice will be a dominant force on the field, attacking every angle of the Irish defense. Kelly will open up the field posing a major threat to the ND defense. This dynamic duo will penetrate through the defense too often resulting in a Sun Devil win.
10/19 vs. #23 USC
-Win: After two close losses to Oklahoma and ASU, the Irish offense will be playing full tilt in search of blood. The USC defense just won’t be strong enough for the long ball passes Rees will connect with to junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels. The Trojan defense struggles with coverage when the field is opened. Therefore, Rees will take advantage and gain some yards with Daniels.
10/26 at Air Force
-Win: This game will result in a high score, with the Irish reaching about 40+ points while holding the Falcons to 25 points or less.
11/02 vs. Navy
-Win: As they have done in previous seasons, the Irish will put away the Midshipmen early on and take a commanding lead with them until the final whistle.
11/09 at Pittsburgh
-Loss: For some reason, the Irish always struggle to put Pitt away. Last season they were lucky to escape with a victory after competing in three overtimes. Last time the Irish lost to the Panthers was in 2009. However, since then Pitt has given them a run for their money, losing 23-17 in 2010 and 15-12 in 2011.
11/23 vs. BYU
-Win: The defense, if they are on their game, will win this for the Irish. Indubitably, this battle will be a low scoring game, leaving the pressure in both teams defense’s hands.
11/30 at #5 Stanford
-Win: The defending Pac-12 champions pose a large threat to the Irish defense and offense. The Cardinal defense is known for causing turnovers. If Rees can limit turnovers and the defense can hold the Cardinal force, the Irish will pull away with a W.