Twelve up, twelve down. So what's next? Naturally the first of eight looks at the future, position…
Regular Season Review: Notre Dame
The undefeated Irish will play January 7 for the 2013 BCS Championship. That didn't only exceed all expectations outside the programs walls, it obliterated them.
2. What one player has made the difference this season?
Senior linebacker Manti Te'o developed into arguably the best college football player in America. He was the team's best player vs. the run, the pass, and its heart and soul throughout an undefeated regular season -- the program's first since 1988.
3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the BCS Championship?
Notre Dame finished undefeated despite just 27 touchdowns scored in its 58 red zone forays this fall. Their offensive balance and season-long improvement suggests yards can be accrued no matter who the foe, but if too many drives end in field goals (sophomore Kyle Brindza set a program record with 23 made in 31 attempts), the Irish will end their magical run as the nation's second-best team rather than as champions.
4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?
The defense's three-year evolution under head coach Brian Kelly from program weakness to national dominance. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's unit allowed just nine touchdowns in 2012, five fewer than any team including defending national champion Alabama. (Just two opponents hit pay dirt via the rush.) Key to the effort was a front four populated by future NFL draft picks and the presence of Manti Te'o behind them.
5. If the recruiting class stays in-tact, what are your expectations for next season?
At present, the Irish are the nation's No. 1 ranked team with the No. 1 ranked recruiting class per FOX Sports NEXT…and the nation's No. 1 graduation rate, to boot. The defense loses three starters (and no other regulars) while the offense loses a quartet of starters and five total key players.
The Irish should contend for the national title again in 2013 with home dates against Michigan State, USC and Oklahoma and a road trip to Michigan its toughest tests.
ScoutCFB.com Recommended Stories
College Week 13: 10 Saturday Takeaways
Breaking down all the battles that mattered this weekend.Read More
OU's Perine rushes into record books
Norman has seen a lot of special days, but few will compare to what Samaje Perine did Saturday in rushing for 427 yards and five touchdowns.Read More
The Ten Best Games Of Week 13
The best games, the biggest moments, and the most memorable battles of the week.Read More
College Football Playoff Ranking: Week 13
The latest College Football Playoff rankings - Week 4Read More
Week 12: Game Time Decisions
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Rob Warner posts his big-name players to watch as they heal at the last minute before the games begin on Sunday.Read More