August 27, 2013 // Notre Dame Football

2013 Notre Dame Football Season Prediction

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Notre Dame 2013 Season Prediction

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (10) pauses between drills during practice at the LaBar Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally here.  No more careful study and commentary on player weight gains or rewinding the tiny glimpses of fall camp video footage for any potential glimmer of insight, and no more charts as to the geographic makeup of the team.  Come Saturday, it will no longer matter who you are or what you did the previous year – it will simply be time to pad up and let the hitting do the talking.  Notre Dame’s 2013 season is finally set to begin.

As a Michigan native who has followed Brian Kelly’s career trajectory since his tenure at Grand Valley State with keen interest – and one who was thrilled beyond words at his acceptance of the Notre Dame position – you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Kelly supporter amongst the Irish faithful.  However, with the toughest schedule in the nation looming and a redshirt freshman quarterback pulling the trigger, even I predicted a lowly 6-6 mark (or, at best, 8-5) for the Irish in 2012.  So what will 2013 bring?  Let’s dive in.

Notre Dame vs. Temple

Summary: Temple’s offense is in flux, with the loss of running back Montel Harris (1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games in 2012) to graduation and the announcement that former 4th string quarterback Connor Reilly is now the starting signal caller.  Such news does not bode well for an offensive unit that finished 107th nationally in its last season.

Prediction: Temple serves as nothing more than an opportunity to shake off seven months of rust, as the Irish take it to the Owls.

Result: Notre Dame 30, Temple 7

Notre Dame at Michigan

Summary: There seems to be very little mention as to how big a role starting Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has had in this series.  In 2011, Rees led ND to a dominating 24-7 lead, chipping in 3 touchdown passes and over 300 yards through the air before Notre Dame’s epic defensive collapse in the 4th quarter.  And few seem to recall that it was toward Rees’ corner where Kelly placed his confidence in 2012’s victory when the lights shined a bit too bright for the redshirt freshman starter, Everett Golson.  While Rees being named the starter was unexpected this season, it’s far from new to the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan’s strength in 2013 is its youthful talent, with at least five freshmen or sophomores heavily in the mix for playing time in Michigan’s defensive front seven.  This strength, however, is also a weakness against a seasoned and strong Notre Dame offensive line unit.  Michigan’s potential shortcoming along its defensive front seven is exacerbated by the loss of junior star linebacker and co-captain, Jake Ryan, until October due to an ACL tear.

Prediction: The one pattern in this series rivalry is that there isn’t one, with all logic going out the window.  ND lost to Michigan in 2011 despite being 4.5 point favorites, and ND won in 2012 after Heisman contender Denard Robinson was pressured into throwing 4 interceptions.  Still, the logic that games are won in the trenches is too potent to be dismissed, and Notre Dame’s experience along the offensive and defensive lines proves too much in a very tight game.

Result: Notre Dame 17, Michigan 10

Notre Dame at Purdue

Summary: First year head coach Darrell Hazell was a dynamite hire for a Boilermaker program that has been nothing but fizz.  Hazell was able to morph perennial doormat Kent State into an 11-win unit that threatened to kick in the doors of the BCS party last season.  Though Hazell might inevitably prove himself to be one of the best coaches in the nation, that day is not today.

Prediction: Purdue returns only 5 starters from an offensive group that managed to rank 58th nationally, and those losses come courtesy of the starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions.  Hazell could pose a danger to Notre Dame in the future, but building a foundation of winning takes time, and the cracks from the previous coaching regime were numerous.

Result: Notre Dame 27, Purdue 10

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Summary: In the past 20 years Notre Dame has only managed to beat Michigan and Michigan State in the same season four times, which has almost always led to a magical season (the one exception being 2004 when a Tyrone Willingham-led ND squad finished 6-6 on the year).  Will Notre Dame be able to overcome the recent historical odds and defeat Michigan and Michigan State in the same season two years in a row?

Prediction: Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is learning the hard way how difficult it is to field a consistent winner in East Lansing with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame in your backyard.  The fact the Spartans are still in a four-way quarterback race less than a week before kickoff offers evidence the quarterback inefficiency that plagued MSU and led to a 95th overall offensive ranking has not been solved.  Notre Dame faces yet another hard-fought, low-scoring battle with Sparty before pulling away in the 2nd half.

Result: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 10

Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Summary: Star quarterback Landry Jones is gone and Blake Bell, the expected heir-apparent, has been usurped by redshirt freshman Trevor Knight.  While all media eyes are focused on the upset results of the quarterback battle, the Sooners’ ultimate downfall comes courtesy of another position entirely.

Prediction: Sometimes timing is everything, and Oklahoma happens to be playing Notre Dame during a slight rebuilding year.  Major question marks dot the defensive line and linebacker corps of Oklahoma, with the potential for the Sooners’ defense to finish even worse than their 89th ranking in rush defense in 2012.  Notre Dame’s strong offensive line and rushing attack will prove too much for a depleted Oklahoma front seven to handle, and the Fighting Irish manage an undefeated campaign in September for the second year in a row.

Result: Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 17

Notre Dame at Arizona State (Dallas)

Summary:  Arizona State head coach Todd Graham has been a thorn in Notre Dame’s side for several years.  In addition to beating Notre Dame as Tulsa’s head coach in 2010, in 2011 Graham and his Pittsburgh Panthers gave the Fighting Irish all they could handle before ND pulled out a squeaker victory, 15-12.

Prediction: Sandwiched between Oklahoma and USC, the Arizona State match can be categorized as a classic “trap game” for Notre Dame.  Returning 17 starters, including dual threat quarterback Taylor Kelly, Arizona State is considered a dark horse candidate for the Pac-12 title, and ultimately proves too much for Notre Dame.  With talented pieces at his disposal the likes of which he did not possess at Tulsa or Pittsburgh, Graham and the Sun Devils pull off the upset and catch Notre Dame napping in Dallas.

Result: Arizona State 24, Notre Dame 20

Notre Dame vs. USC

Summary: What to make of a team that was preseason #1 in 2012 and ultimately ended with a shockingly laughable 7-6 record?  Better yet, what does one make of that same program planning to open its 2013 season rotating between two players at the quarterback position?

Prediction: USC has as much talent as any football team in America and could beat nearly any program on any given week.  The problem resides in poor coaching courtesy of head coach, Lane Kiffin.  With all being even between Notre Dame and the USC Trojans, Notre Dame gains the edge in the coaching column as well as home field advantage, though new USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast proves to be an immediate impact and upgrade.  Notre Dame regains its focus after the Arizona State loss and wins in a game of inches against its historic rival.

Result: Notre Dame 17, USC 14

Notre Dame at Air Force

Summary: Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun has done an outstanding job as he enters his seventh season in Colorado Springs.  What can Notre Dame expect against yet another program boasting an option attack?  The Falcons return only four starters on offense and are forced to replace three starting offensive linemen, as well as their starting quarterback and running back.

Prediction: A brand new offensive line equals a tasty snack for Notre Dame’s All-American defensive line in Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix.  Notre Dame flies (feel free to boo the bun) to victory.

Result: Notre Dame 40, Air Force 7

Notre Dame vs. Navy

Summary: Notre Dame seems to have shaken the Midshipmen monkey off its back after blasting Navy out of Dublin, 50-10, in 2012.

Prediction: With two straight weeks to prepare for the option after beating Air Force the previous Saturday, Notre Dame brushes aside the Naval Academy, even with the emergence of Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds as a bona fide playmaker.

Result: Notre Dame 40, Navy 21

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

Summary: Sometimes you need a field goal to sail wide in order to maintain a perfect season.  Pittsburgh gave Notre Dame such a gift in 2012 when ND managed to hang on against the Panthers in overtime, 29-26.

Prediction: The Panthers have more questions than answers on offense, with newly appointed starting quarterback Tom Savage and the loss of star running back Rushel Shell to transfer.  The lack of depth at the wide receiver position is also a critical concern for Pitt.  What the Panthers lack on offense they more than make up for on defense, however.  Returning nine starters from a defensive squad that finished 17th nationally in 2012 – including defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a Bednarik Award finalist – the Panthers defense will be as swarming and feisty as ever.  The Fighting Irish emerge with a victory after yet another slugfest with Pitt.

Result: Notre Dame 14, Pittsburgh 10

Notre Dame vs. BYU

Summary: While the faces may change, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has built a program with remarkable consistency.  This stability means Notre Dame fans shouldn’t make too much of a new starting quarterback in Taysom Hill.  Green quarterback or not, wide receiver Cody Hoffman, who leads the nation in career touchdown receptions with 28, will be ready to make plays.

Prediction: The Fighting Irish will face a battle very similar to the one they found themselves in with BYU in 2012.  The end result will be the same, too.

Result: Notre Dame 17, BYU 10

Notre Dame at Stanford

Summary: The showdown begins.  Notre Dame arrives in Palo Alto with a 10-1 record for a top-ranked contest with the future Pac-12 champion, the Stanford Cardinal.  Will Stanford gain its revenge on Notre Dame for 2012’s goal line defeat?

Prediction: Stanford’s ability to throw punches in this heavyweight bout will be hampered by the loss of five of its main playmakers from the previous year, most notably in the form of running back Stepfan Taylor and star tight end, Zach Ertz.  The inexperience at the skill position is mostly negated, however, by a veteran offensive line and a dominant defense.  The loss of Everett Golson’s athletic ability is felt more than ever against the swarming defense of Stanford and is ultimately too much to overcome.

Notre Dame fights valiantly in a true smash mouth classic but the Cardinal claim their revenge.  The score is the exact same as 2012, though this time in Stanford’s favor.

Result: Stanford 20, Notre Dame 13

Notre Dame Season Overview

Notre Dame posts a 10-2 regular season record in 2013, with starting quarterback Tommy Rees leading Notre Dame to a BCS berth in true underdog fashion.  With back-to-back BCS caliber seasons, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly ushers in a new and long-awaited era to Fighting Irish football.

After twenty years of stumbling and mismanagement, the Fighting Irish have finally solidified their position once again as a stable, elite-level program.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles as well as co-founded a nationally-featured non-profit organization. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at

Comments to this Article

  • Toulmin H. Brown commented on August 27th, 2013 at 9:21 am


    F.I.G.H.T.I.N.G. – I.R.I.S.H.


    Scott Janssen replied on August 27th, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.


  • Ted Peters commented on August 27th, 2013 at 10:34 am

    ASU faces Wisconsin, Stanford and USC in the three weeks prior to the ND clash in Dallas. They may well be walking wounded by then, as these are three very physical teams. I suspect a trap game somewhere in our schedule, but I’m not confidant that the Sun Devils will healthy enough when we meet.


    dloirish replied on August 27th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    i totally agree with you. ASU will not be the trap game. It is very possible for us to be undefeated again, however unlikely it may seem.
    I hate the Huffington Post for its liberal stand. But otherwise Go Irish


    KEVIN HURLEY replied on August 28th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    LIBERALS ROCK! America wouldn’t exist without us. This Huffington chick, though I know not what you refer to, is a chick. SHE NOR HER MAGAZINE DOESN’T KNOW COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Ted Paters has a great point; ASU will be roughed-up when the face us. I think people must look at the X-factor: LUCK. ND was lucky last year, but woefully UNlucky the previous 2 years. We deserve more good luck. Because we are ND.


    Brad Sinclair replied on August 29th, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I don’t see ASU as a trap game either. With everybidy touting it as a trap game from as early as last spring there is not way Kelly will let them get into that mindset. How many times have I read that ASU will upset the Irish? Plenty. With thte regularity of those predictions the Irish have somethign to prove against ASU. They will definitely show up for this game.

    Go Irish


  • Patrick commented on August 27th, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I don’t see undefeated again. There’s 5-6 teams on the schedule who can beat Notre Dame – Michigan, MSU, Oklahoma, USC, Stanford and a trap team (ASU, BYU). To think they waltz through that schedule is drinking the kool-aid.

    I see 10-2 as well with Rees at the helm. If Golson was in, I’d be all about 12-0 again, but that’s not happening. I won’t complain about 10-2, but this year needs to build momentum for next year. No blow-outs in bowl games, no horrendous offseasons, national title or bust in 2014.


  • JC commented on August 27th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Since I’m NOT an angushing NEXT YEAR minion. I’ll stand by my 11-1 prediction and squeak into a rematch with Bama. 12-0 would be icing on the cupcake! Since my prediction on GAIII coming out of fall practice being the GUY and last year we would win-out after Oklahoma. Faith in this team prevails over ‘dime a dozen’ safe mode easy predictions.



  • Shazamrock commented on August 27th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Does anyone know who the officials will be for the ND / Michigan game?

    BIG-10, or perhaps ACC? I can’t seem to find any info on the subject.

    Before making any predictions,(or bets) I would need to first know what crew is going to call that game.


    Toulmin H. Brown replied on August 27th, 2013 at 1:21 pm



    Scott Janssen replied on August 27th, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I could be mistaken but I believe I read at one point that ACC officials would be doing the Michigan-ND game.


    Ron Burgundy replied on August 27th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I’m sure I will be blasted with some names here but do you really think Saban or Bama fans are concerned with what officials are handling their game with Va Tech this weekend? Be better than the opponent and it doesn’t matter.


    Shazamrock replied on August 28th, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Va Tech is a long way from Michigan.

    I guessing that you don’t bet on college football much.

    Ron Burgundy replied on August 28th, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Are you referring to miles apart or talent when comparing Tech and UM?

    I’ll bet on occasion but never would I consider the officiating crew. Bad calls happen, good teams overcome them. Over the course of time it all balances out. I guess the guys in Vegas look at it but they probably build that into the line ahead of time.

    Michael the Archangel replied on August 27th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Right On, Shaz . . .
    Too often Pac 10 or Big 10 refs have played too much a role in the games’ outcomes. Also, I see BYU (although it will be our last home game) as a potential “trap game” as well as Az. St. And how much will “revenge” play into @ Pitt and the OK game? With dominant defenses like MSU, BYU, Pitt and Stanford, will Tommy rise to the occasion? Impossible to predict a final record, especially if key injury losses in either/both lines occur. I’ll be looking more for the heart and competitiveness of this team than the final record. Hoping this year’s version remains undefeated and with attitude when defending the sacred home turf.Also, I read where AF is moving to a more conventional offense, dropping the option ???


    Damian replied on August 27th, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I could be wrong, but I thought Michigan had a stipulation that Big 10 officiating had to be used for all Michigan games, regardless of where they are played.


    Shazamrock replied on August 28th, 2013 at 6:58 am

    The general agreement between most non conference teams is that the home team provides the chain-gang, replay officials, and clock management personel, while the visiting team provides the refs.

    But then, Michigan isn’t “most teams” are they?

  • ARMAC commented on August 27th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    10-2 is likely, I suppose. They are mostly plausible outcomes, assuming that Temple, Purdue, MSU and Air Force each score their touchdown in garbage time.

    Diaco has learned how to defense the option. This defensive unit is his fastest and most athletic ever. 21 points by Navy would represent quite a regression.

    Scott does not display high expectations for Tommy or Coach Martin. Objectively this makes sense. But in games where the Irish should dominate both lines of scrimmage – like Michigan – the Irish should be in the red zone a lot.

    The Arizona State game could well be determined by attrition. By that point in the season both teams will probably have lost front line players. The game might come down to depth.


    Scott Janssen replied on August 27th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I’m a big fan of Coach Martin and have all the confidence in the world in him. He’s going to be a head coach somewhere one of these days, and a great one at that. I also think Rees is more than capable of leading ND to a BCS game.

    I don’t have low expectations for the offense (I think our rushing attack is going to be extremely strong this year) as much as I think ND plays several tough, physical defenses this year.


    ARMAC replied on August 27th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Then we are both fans of Coach Martin. If BK really does leave for the NFL someday, he may be ND’s next Head Coach.

    Your Michigan-ND score prediction must be based on the series history. On paper, the Irish should dominate both lines of scrimmage. The Wolverines have talent but the Irish have at least comparable talent plus experience and depth. Skill positions favor the Irish as well.

    I expect a significant upgrade from the Irish on offense. A pulverizing ground game, a multifaceted air game, confusion for inexperienced defenses, and touchdowns in the red zone.

    But ultimately, no great disagreement here. ASU and Stanford are the biggest challenges. 10-2 is plausible. But I will predict Undefeated Again – because it could really happen.


  • Scott Janssen commented on August 27th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    And as far as Navy goes, they’ll have some players this year. Reynolds, Navy’s QB, is going to be a star. I think Navy could score 21, definitely, and that is by no means a shot at our defense. The option is difficult to stop when you have a great quarterback running it, as ND has learned all too much in recent years.


  • Damian commented on August 27th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I like the prediction above, but I can’t help but feeling ND will end up with 3 to 4 losses. I agree with the loss predictions above, but I also think they will lose at least 1 or 2 other games (any combination of Michigan, Michigan State, BYU or Oklahoma). The loss of Golson will just be too much of an obstacle. Rees has given as good as he is capable of giving and Zaire just doesn’t have the experience yet to take over if Rees is in trouble.


    Toulmin H. Brown replied on August 27th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Roman Catholics “have faith”!


    ARMAC replied on August 27th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Damian, I hope you are wrong.

    The offense has been restructured to maximize Tommy’s talents and minimize his deficiencies. He can read defenses and throw short with accuracy.

    The running game should be powerful, with sufficient breakaway speed to force defenses to play the run first, even in third and five (or six). In the passing game he should be able to find a mismatch at receiver, tight end, or running back on nearly every play. He has an impressive arsenal of Good Hands People with speed.

    If he can throw the end zone fade reliably, he should have some excellent targets in Davaris Daniels, Cory Robinson, Koyack, and Niklas.

    We will know soon enough.


  • JC commented on August 27th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Ah yes,

    On site documentation at it’s finest: Above related posts!
    “A Look at the 2012 Schedule” Author: Walter Solback

    My response: “Well Walter, I’ll take your 12-0 for ND”
    No way 3-4 losses this year!



  • Matt commented on August 27th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I hope you’re right, but I just feel like Turnover Tommy will blow a game or two. 8-4 this season would be an accomplishment with him at QB.


    JC replied on August 27th, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    It’s entirely possible Matt. However, BK said in the spring if you turn the ball over at QB you won’t be playing. So the 64 dollar question becomes: how many turnovers before you’re out at QB? If TR is one and done and Hendrix or Zaire comes in OK. Surely enough, 1-3 turnovers per game as in the past then you are going to be right. Yet, TR was only named the starter for Temple not the season. So it will definitely be interesting to see how NEW and IMPROVED TR will be? On the other hand, it would not surprise me if BK would decide to bring Zaire along like Golson last year; by implementing limited plays when things do not go well for TR. Honestly, I remain optimistic the defense will carry this team and score often. Only the positive test of time will tell.



    Matt replied on August 28th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    JC you are completely right. The best thing I have heard in 9 months was Kelly stating that TR was named the starter for Temple not the entire season. I just hope he stays fairly conservative with him at the helm. Even Martin when pressed about respecting his arm strength said “No”. He is the biggest “wildcard” we have this year.


  • jeff commented on August 28th, 2013 at 1:25 am

    TR will be fine and hopefully he doesnt get hurt. If we have to rely on Hendrix or Zaire we are in trouble.


  • Storespook commented on August 28th, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I do believe this year’s team’s success will be far more dictated by the defensive side of the ball than the offense. Depth will be a factor. We all saw how important that issue was last January on a Monday night we’d all like to forget. We are more improved in that area better than what we were. The fair haired wonder boy (AKA TR) is not my favorite. He has a track record and there is a reason he was beat out last year by redshirt frosh. Well, opportunity has now been given to him (much to my chagrin) but it is what is, so he now has the ball in his hands to start 2013. I am not optimistic that the new & improved TR will be much different. The team’s confidence in his leadership will affect how they play. I HOPE he plays well for the sake of the team. Yes, he’s been named started for the 1st game only(that makes me wonder just how truly the coaching staff thinks of a “seasoned” senior which Mr Rees is by now). I think the running game WILL have to effective, especially against better D’a we will face. Though we have some good backs, many are untested for endurance (I think Greg Bryant will be a monster back when it’s all said & done). Few people saw 12-0 last year and played poorly in a BCS game, the biggest one you can play. I don’t think that is going to replicate this year. I think realistically 9-3 is not a stretch, 10-2 with some good breaks. If Golson was playing I’d feel a lt different. The one irritating thing since BK arrived has been the inconsistent role at QB. I was hoping that would have changed but other forces said otherwise. Can’t wait for Saturday.

    Gooooooooo Irishhhhhhhhhhhh


  • Geoff G commented on August 29th, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I’ll be happy if we go 9-3 this year with Tommy as our QB. 9-3 or 8-4 is where I think we will end up. If we had EG, I’d say 10-2 or 11-1. this year. I think we will have trouble with Michigan, MSU, OU, USC, and Stanford. Not to mention some of the other teams that won’t be top 25 teams that will be challenges just like every year.


  • Scav commented on August 29th, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Our offense averaged 29 points/game with TR as QB in 2011, compared to 25/game last year with Golson. It was our defense that let us down against Michigan and Florida State that year and it was Crist who fumbled at the one-yard line against USC to change the complexity of that game.

    With our defense much stronger and TR more experienced and mature, why can’t this team win 10-11 games?

    The culture at ND has changed, this is not the same team we have been watching for the last 20 years. Kelly has turned this program into a Top 10 BCS caliber team. I say we will win at least 10 games this year and for years to come as long as Kelly is the coach.


  • noahawk commented on August 29th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I am seeing an 8-4 season for the Irish; which is a good season against a very rugged schedule. The offense from last year under Golson was not good, ranking #82 in scoring offense and I am doubtful that we will see much improvement with Rees and a cast of untested talent.

    The defense should be very good but not good enough to offset mediocre offense. Michigan, MSU, Okla, USC, Stanford, Purdue and ASU are all real teams and will show up for a game against ND. The Irish go 8-4 and finish toward the bottom of the top 25.


  • bruce johnson commented on August 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    you gotta believe

    never ever give up

    save nick saban’s ass for me

    go irish!


  • Tpycz commented on September 2nd, 2013 at 11:53 am

    In the beginning of the article you assert that notre dame would finish 6-6 or 8-5 at best, yet in the prediction section they are only losing 2 or 3. Hard to take anything you say seriously as a first grader has better math skills…learn to count and maybe the words you say will mean something


    Frank Vitovitch replied on September 2nd, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Scott actually said that he predicted 6-6 or 8-5 for 2012 in the article not for 2013.


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