With Some Love from Computers, Notre Dame Has a Clear Path to BCS

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterOctober 14, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13:  Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinal is stopped short of the goal by members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense on the last play of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Have you started lighting things on fire yet? You have? Good. Please continue to do so.

The initial BCS Standings are out, which means college football’s calm and level-headed fanbases will likely handle these controversial formulas with a smile and a wave. By “smile” I mean obscenity, and by “wave” I mean a single finger located in the middle of one’s hand that typically serves as a rather obvious gesture towards another.

The controversy of this system, which is now on life support thanks to the “playoff” coming in 2014, has become a yearly staple of your sporting world. Add in a Top-Five ranked Notre Dame, and by golly you’ve got yourself a lightning storm and a lightning rod. 

That’s right. The undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish debut at No. 5 in the initial BCS standings, which is the first time in quite some time they have ascended that far up.

While there many pivotal games still on Notre Dame’s remaining schedule, the Irish are looking good when it comes to working their way into a BCS bowl game. The Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton has outlined some of the scenarios.

A top 8 finish in the final BCS standings guarantees the Irish a berth. A top 14 finish qualifies them for selection, and then the promise of television ratings and a relentless typhoon of tourist money serve as a defacto guarantee for an invite.

If Notre Dame wins only the games in which it is favored from here out, that equals 10 victories. And the chance of a 10-win Notre Dame team finishing outside the top 14 of the final BCS rankings this season?

In a word, says Jerry Palm: "Zero."

"If they're 10-2, they're in the BCS," said Palm, the proprietor of CollegeBCS.com and CBSSports.com's BCS analyst.

Here’s what the Irish’s remaining schedule looks like: They’ll welcome BYU to town next weekend (they’re a two-touchdown favorite) and then head to Oklahoma the following week in what could be their toughest game of the season. After that they’ll get Pitt, take a road trip to Boston College, welcome Wake Forest to South Bend and then head to So Cal for a huge finishing showdown with USC.

On the surface, two losses certainly appear possible for this team, although I would be very surprised to see them end up with a three in the “L” column. Stranger things have happened, but despite this team’s offensive woes, the defense is stout enough to carry it over every team not named Oklahoma or USC. 

The larger question to some degree—and the one that Irish fans are zeroing in on at the moment—is about that national championship game. Forget about the BCS (well, don’t forget, but let’s shoot for the moon); what about the ultimate hardware?

The good news for Notre Dame is the computers absolutely love them. They’re currently ranked No. 2 according to the CPU, sitting behind the Florida Gators, who are a bit of a surprise being ranked No. 2 overall. Again, this means very little right now, and there is much to be decided in the SEC. 

Outside of the Gators, the teams sitting in front of Notre Dame have plenty of tricky spots ahead. Kansas State (No. 4) has a trip to Morgantown on tap where they will take on a hungry West Virginia squad. Oregon (No. 3) has a handful of losable games, including one this week at Arizona State and a November 3 showdown against USC. Oh, a final matchup at Oregon State won't be easy, either. Alabama (No. 1) is, well, Alabama, but the Tide still have a showdown with LSU on the first Saturday of November and a potentially tricky SEC Title Game to worry about.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how each team’s undefeated schedule would match up, and thankfully (well, maybe not), we have a formula that is able to do just that. Can the Irish win their remaining games and sneak their way into the title game? Absolutely. Should you anticipate them to surge from the five spot to within the top two? Easy now, big fella.

Notre Dame certainly has something going, but the offensive issues will likely prevent the Irish from finishing the 2012 season unscathed. It’s still very possible, but unlikely. Guess what? About one hundred other teams would love to have this scenario placed upon them entering Week 8.

A BCS bowl seems very, very likely, and the computers are feelin' the Irish. If the offense can muster up more production and luck stays on their side (see: Stanford), then perhaps an appearance in the title game isn’t out of reach.

We’ve got a long way to go, however. Make sure you save your finest BCS controversy-burning furniture for the home stretch.

Something tells me, like most years, you’re going to need it.