Notre Dame’s undefeated season marches on but into what direction? The next three games will determine the fate of the bowl destination for the Fighting Irish. A lot of what happens depends on what Notre Dame does on the field but also on what occurs with the other teams surrounding the Irish in the current BCS Standings. Two projections and multiple opponents only appear to be realistic at this time based upon rational thinking of how Notre Dame will fare and what could occur in the BCS Standings.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 3rd at 8:30 pm, Glendale, Arizona (Big 12 vs. At-Large)
Opponent: Kansas State (Others: Oklahoma, Texas)
This is Notre Dame’s most likely destination if the Irish are locked out of the BCS National Title Game or if the Irish drop a game down the stretch. The Fighting Irish would play the winner of the Big 12 Title. At this time, it would be Kansas State. However, there are two possibilities that would lead Kansas State to not appearing in the Fiesta Bowl. First, the Wildcats could play for the National Title Game. They are currently ranked 2nd in the BCS Standing ahead of Oregon and Notre Dame. If they can hold on to their slot, they would play for the national title. Second, if the Wildcats begin to drop games, they could lose the Big 12 Title. The Big 12 Standings currently have Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas in that order. Therefore, there is an outside chance that the Fighting Irish could take on the Sooners or the Longhorns in Arizona.
Discover BCS National Championship Game, January 7th at 8:30 pm, Miami, Florida (BCS #1 vs. BCS #2)
Opponent: Alabama (Others: Kansas State, Oregon, Georgia)
Notre Dame has an outside shot to play in the National Title Game but they will need help. First, they need to win the three remaining games on their schedule. Also, it would not hurt if they did it in convincing fashion. Then, presumably, Notre Dame would need Alabama, Kansas State or Oregon to lose down the stretch. It is difficult to postulate what will happen with the Computer Rankings but it would be best if Notre Dame had two teams lose in front of them. Of course, the opponents for the National Title Game could be any of the three teams named above. It seems unlikely at this point that a current one-loss team, such as Georgia, would come from the outside to land in the BCS Title Game. However, stranger things have happened. Because Georgia could win the SEC Championship, it is unreasonable to completely exclude them from the conversation.
Notre Dame’s most likely spot undefeated or one-loss is in the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, if Notre Dame falls in multiple games down the stretch, they could land in a non-BCS game if they fall outside the Top 14 of the BCS Standings. This would remove them from At-Large contention. It is almost automatic that if Notre Dame is within that parameter, they will be accepted by a Bowl looking for a team that travels well and always gets tremendous ratings.