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Return to BCS for Notre Dame?

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

There have been four instances over the past 15 years where Notre Dame had a season that looked to indicate the program was headed back to its former greatness, only to see those hopes dashed by a letdown in the following season. The Fighting Irish were "back" ... then not back at all.

That type of history has to make one wonder if a 2012 campaign that saw the Fighting Irish win their first 12 games on the way to a berth in the BCS National Championship is one of those short-term turnarounds or if it will be more like the launching pad initial seasons posted by legendary Irish coaches such as Elmer Layden, Frank Leahy and Ara Parseghian.

After reviewing the game tapes, metrics and other elements, it is clear that most signs point toward 2013 being another season where this team will be a strong contender for a BCS bowl game. Are they "back" for good? I can't say, but the signs for 2013 are promising.

Here are eight of them:

1. Elite quarterback potential

Everett Golson's penchant for getting benched and/or pulled out of games may have diminished his general public perception, yet the fact is that he had one of the best seasons under center in Notre Dame history. Really.