Head Coach Brian Kelly (37-15) leads his No. 17 Notre Dame Irish against defending Conference USA champ Rice to open the season Saturday. Everett Golson returns to the starting quarterback job. Golson missed all of the 2013 season due to academic problems. Potent weapon Greg Bryant returns to the backfield too, after a bad knee kept him out most of 2013.
Along with the good news of these players returning, comes a less happy situation: the Irish will be missing four players–receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive end Ishaq Williams — for at least the Rice opener, while the school deals with academic fraud allegations that has brought the university unwelcome national headlines. At NDNation.com, where John Vannie consistently delivers the nitty gritty details on Notre Dame football, the preview notes that “Neither team appears to be blessed with gifted pass rushers.” Which should be nice for Golson’s comeback. Vannie also asks “How many people will show up in the Stadium for this game?” It’s an unusual question to ask about the Notre Dame faithful.