Notre Dame's brand name might not be enough to get it into the national championship game (you heard that right, Lou Holtz), but it still has plenty of pull when it comes time for BCS bowls to make their picks.
Despite appearances - that No. 3 Notre Dame is closer to No. 2 Oregon than Oregon is to No. 1 Kansas State in the latest BCS standings - there is no chance for the Irish to catch either team without a loss by them. The Irish have maxed out their computer scores at .990 and are unlikely to get any more support in the polls unless they can rout USC at the Coliseum in two weeks.
|BCS||Harris Poll||USA Today||Computer Rankings|
But there will be a big consolation prize for Notre Dame, and that'll depend on who finishes first and second in the final BCS standings. The Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl are both interested in the Irish. For the Fiesta, Notre Dame was instrumental in helping to build the bowl's reputation when the Irish beat West Virginia to win the the school's last national championship in 1988. For the Irish, they'd get a chance to erase some awful memories as they have dropped their last three bowl games in the desert.
The Rose Bowl ideally would like to keep its traditional Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup, but it might not have the option. In fact, if the Fiesta gets to pick first and selects Notre Dame, the Rose might have to opt for Oklahoma because of a lack of BCS eligible Pac-12 teams. After Oregon, currently only Stanford is in the BCS top 14. But the Cardinal still have to play the Ducks, as does No. 16 Oregon State and the winner of the No. 17 UCLA-No. 18 USC game. If Oregon does run the table and go to the title game, none of those teams will be in the top 14.
SB Nation's The Solid Verbal recaps the weekend of college football.
After having had TCU, Texas and Oklahoma in Pasadena in the past decade as per the auspices of the BCS, the Rose Bowl is intrigued by having Notre Dame back for the first time since the days of Knute Rockne. The Irish defeated Stanford 27-10 in the 1925 game. It was Notre Dame's first bowl appearance and its only one until 1970, as the school self-imposed a bowl ban for nearly half a century.
With six SEC teams currently occupying Nos. 4-9 in the BCS standings, there is an outside chance that we might run out of BCS eligible teams in the top 14, especially if Florida (vs. Florida State) and/or South Carolina (vs. Clemson) win their out-of-conference rivalry games in two weeks.
If there are not enough eligible teams to be selected in the top 14, per BCS bylaw the qualifying field would expand to No. 18 (and by fours until all 10 bowl slots are filled). If this protocol needs to be invoked, then it'd be likely that the Rose Bowl will grudgingly take a Pac-12 team. It'd be a hard pill to swallow because it's possible that the Grandaddy of 'em All might be fielding a pair of three-loss teams.
One thing we are sure of, even with three weeks to go still, is that the SEC will get two BCS representatives, with possibly neither in the BCS title game. In that event, whoever wins the Georgia-Alabama SEC championship game will end up in the Sugar Bowl, with another team likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl. Right now, the frontrunner for the SEC at-large selection is Texas A&M, which with freshman sensation Johnny "Football" Manziel lighting it up, has captured the nation's imagination.
At least the BCS bowls won't have to contend with a non-BCS riff-raff for a second straight year. Louisiana Tech, the highest-ranked team from a non-AQ conference, is stuck at No. 20 and has very limited potential to get to the top 16, let alone top 12, which would be the automatic qualifying standard at the moment.
So we tear up our bowl projections from last week and with three weeks left on the season, this is what we're looking at right now:
BCS national championship - Kansas State vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl - Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M
Rose Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Clemson
Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Louisville
Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.