Golson, recruits key to Notre Dame's hopes

With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarked on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools. Today is the final stop, checking out the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame had a nearly perfect season that will likely be remembered best for one really imperfect night.

The Irish were unbeaten up until the Discover BCS Championship, a run during which they had narrow victories over Stanford, Pittsburgh and USC.

This is the final year of Notre Dame’s full independence, as the Irish will start playing five games per year against the ACC starting in 2014. Many rivalries will end or become less frequent, including this year’s final trip to Ann Arbor before the Michigan series ends in 2014.

The Irish will lose some key players, most notably tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Manti Te'o.

A third straight top-10 recruiting class (No. 4 according to ESPN) includes four players in the top two at their position, most importantly No. 2 running back Greg Bryant.

Everett Golson Throws of 10+ Yards
2012 Season

Notre Dame will look to maintain a defense that was (until the BCS title game) on pace to have the lowest opponents' touchdown percentage on red zone possessions of any FBS defense in the last eight seasons.

The Irish allowed only eight red-zone touchdowns in the regular season, but yielded five to Alabama.

One of the things to watch will be the continued development of quarterback Everett Golson.

Golson completed 61 percent of his passes of 10 yards or longer in his final four games of the season. He had at least seven completions on passes of this distance in each of those games. In his first eight games, Golson had only two such games.