Are Notre Dame Fighting Irish Back in National Title Hunt?

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Regardless of what any pundit says, the 9-4 record the Notre Dame Fighting Irish posted last year in Brian Kelly’s fourth year is another sign that he’s still in the process of building up the program.

And he’s doing a pretty good job.

So Notre Dame didn’t belong in the national championship game in 2012. But they made it there with a thin but still building roster, and after losing a ton of talent, then having their quarterback sit out the entire following season, fighting to get 9 wins shows the depth Kelly is building.

Kelly has slowly spent the past five years stocking the cupboard, and his recruiting and coaching has them in a position where they are almost fully back to Notre Dame football.

But how far away are they? With two straight top 15 classes, including the No. 3 class last year, and a good number of players back from last year, this team definitely has lots of young potential.

Nov 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly (center) leads the Fighting Irish onto the field to play the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

But some of the talent did leave from last year, Kelly has to make another change at quarterback, albeit to one he had in 2012, and the schedule gets much tougher with Florida State added to it.

This year will truly be the measuring stick of where Kelly has the program headed, and if he can prove that it’s on its way back to being a regular powerhouse, he’ll also prove that Notre Dame finally has some stability at head coach for the first time since Lou Holtz, who left in 1996.

But he’ll have to deal with a few questions first.

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