College football guru Phil Steele last week released his combined 2014 experience chart, which uses a formula that breaks down returning two-deep players in order to rank teams by their returning experience.
In what is probably a surprising number to many, Notre Dame comes in at No. 120 out of 128.
Now, we all know that the Irish have a lot to replace on the defensive side of the ball, where, depending on your formula, they are breaking in roughly six new starters. Offensively, too, there will be new faces in the receiving corps and, technically, under center, as Everett Golson returns after a one-season absence.
It is important to take a closer look at this formula in order to understand Notre Dame's ranking. Steele takes into account seniors who are starters and in the two-deep. The Irish do not have many of those. (And the ones that they do have are mostly redshirt juniors with another year of eligibility remaining in 2015.)
Four of those aforementioned players -- Golson, Daniels, Martin and Schmidt -- have eligibility remaining beyond this season. The other five don't, and Steele goes with that number in listing five senior starters for the Irish.
Other factors that Steele weighs include percentage of lettermen returning, percentage of returning offensive yards, percentage of tackles returning and returning starts on the offensive line. He goes further in-depth with these categories in his magazine.
For comparison's sake, Notre Dame ranked 65th going into the 2013 season, 65th going into 2012, 27th going into 2011, 105th going into 2010 and 17th going into 2009, which was the first year Steele used this formula.
Of course, experience does not always tell the story. Looking for promise down the list in recent years?
Stanford entered 2012 at 109th and won the Rose Bowl, while Northern Illinois entered at 113th and made the Orange Bowl.
USC entered 2011 at 102nd and went 10-2. (The Trojans were serving a bowl ban.)
Georgia Tech entered 2009 at 112th and made the Orange Bowl, while Boise State entered at 119th (out of 120) and ran the table, winning the Fiesta Bowl.