Season Report Card: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
While they did do that, they still pulled off a solid 9-4 season, with three of those losses coming against teams ranked in the Top 20 in the nation.
Without question though, Notre Dame's claim to fame for the 2013 season will be its win on September 21 against eventual Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Michigan State. Sure, it was early in the year, but it was undoubtedly a big deal for the Irish to knock off a team of that caliber.
So, with all that in mind, let's take a look back and grade the Irish on their season:
If you look at the numbers, Notre Dame's offense wasn't all that impressive. They couldn't run the ball consistently, and Tommy Rees had interception problems down the stretch which resulted in a 2-2 finish in the final four games of the regular season. TJ Jones had a great year at receiver, catching 70 balls for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, Notre Dame was much better. There's no doubt that the main reason for the Irish reeling off nine wins was the play of the defensive unit. They only allowed 22.4 points per game this season (good for 27th in the nation), and were particularly good at defending the pass. No specific stands out when you dive into the numbers on this defense, but that's mainly because this really was a solid all-around unit.
Even in the four losses, the Irish had chances to win. The loss at Pittsburgh will be the one that stands out the most, but other than that, Brian Kelly and his staff did a great job of putting this team in positions to win. This team certainly had its struggles to end the regular season, but all in all, it was a good job from Kelly.
We all knew that Notre Dame wasn't going to match its perfect 2012 regular season. So heading into this one, expectations didn't seem to be all that high. However, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the ones they were supposed to lose to (aside from the Pitt game). With a break here or there, this could have once again been a double-digit win team.
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