Sunday, September 23, 2012

Irish in South Florida? Only If They Buy Tickets

Notre Dame is not going to win the national championship. Not in 2012.

There, I said it. The Guru's Twitter account went nuclear the moment Tommy Rees took a knee to finish the Irish's victory over Michigan, putting them at 4-0 for the first time in a decade. Naturally, this being Notre Dame, where everything must be vastly overhyped, the Irish-for-BCS mania instantly kicked into high gear.

Can Notre Dame actually win the BCS title? Hypothetically, yes, of course. Hypothetically, if I looked like Erin Andrews, I'd probably get a seven-figure gig on FOX and maybe make a run for Miss America, too.

But let's return to earth for now. The Irish's road to South Florida for the BCS title game is full of obstacles. And here's why it's extremely complicated:

Make no mistake, the computers love Notre Dame, which is behind only Stanford in that portion of the latest simulated BCS standings. The Irish play their typical challenging schedule, and already own victories over Michigan and Michigan State. The immediate stretch of their forthcoming schedule is only going to help, as they face Miami, Stanford, BYU and Oklahoma in their next four games - all teams with more than sufficient computer cred.

Strength of schedule, however, is always a double-edged sword. Because the Irish play all these tough teams - with the reprise of "Catholics vs. Convicts" in Chicago and Oklahoma in Norman - their odds of running this gauntlet unbeaten are not terribly good. It would not be entirely surprising if Notre Dame ends up 5-3, or even 4-4, after it gets through these next four games.

The bigger problem facing the Irish, though, are the humans, especially the fellow coaches, who for reasons that include professional jealousy have never been all that friendly toward Notre Dame with their votes. The coaches poll, which accounts for one-third of the BCS standings, has Notre Dame at No. 11, a good deal behind No. 10 Texas, which has beaten exactly nobody.


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