Most college football fans won't need to be told to root against Notre Dame.
If you aren't a loyal supporter of the team in South Bend, there is a good chance that you crack a smile when the Irish suffer a hiccup or two throughout any given season.
That's just the way it is, as Notre Dame is much like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots, in that it is the program that fans love to hate.
But this has nothing to do with what your preferences are as a fan of this great sport. It has more to do with the fact that Notre Dame isn't quite national championship worthy just yet. Sure, the Irish are off to a brilliant start of 7-0 and have three victories over ranked opponents, but they have not been impressive enough to be considered championship caliber.
Let's say Notre Dame runs the table and earns a trip to Miami, FL. for the big game. Does anybody in their right mind believe the Irish could seriously knock off a team such as an Alabama or Oregon?
I understand good teams find ways to win close games and find ways to win games, period. But struggling against BYU, needing overtime and a questionable call to top Stanford, barely beating Michigan despite forcing six turnovers and needing a late second drive to beat Purdue doesn't scream title contender.
Although we are entering the ninth week of the college football season, head coach Brian Kelly is still flip-flopping between quarterbacks. The offense as a whole has scored over 20 points only twice all season long. And despite the front seven of the defense being one of the best in college football, the secondary is still mighty young and still has yet to be tested this year.
When Notre Dame did face off against an okay quarterback in the Hurricanes' Stephen Morris, receivers were running free down field from the opening play. The problem is that the wideouts couldn't catch a cold that day, let alone a football that hit them right in the hands.
Now we fast forward to a team like Alabama, which is once again the best defense college football has to offer. The Crimson Tide are fast to the football, rush the passer extremely well, force a large amount of turnovers and allow less than 12 first downs a game on average.
Whether it is Tommy Rees or first-year starter Everett Golson at quarterback, it is not going to matter against Nick Saban and company. A running game that was held to under two yards per carry against Purdue won't stand a chance against a more physical defensive front such as Alabama. If the offense couldn't get going against teams like Michigan, Stanford and BYU, all hope is lost in a possible matchup against the Crimson Tide.
And while Irish fans are worried about Oklahoma's quarterback Landry Jones and USC signal-caller Matt Barkley, A.J. McCarron isn't half bad himself. The second-year starter is completing nearly 69 percent of his passes, has yet to throw an interception on the year and has shown he can shred defenses apart in the past.
Just look at last season’s national championship, as McCarron completed 67 percent of his throws and threw for 234 yards against a top defense in the country in LSU. The Tigers secondary actually had a first-round draft pick in Morris Claiborne and a Heisman candidate in Tyrann Mathieu, who was constantly picked on by McCarron throughout the game. There aren't any players in this Notre Dame secondary that are even close to that level in 2012.
The point of the BCS system is to find the top two teams in the country that are the most complete and actually have a chance to win the game. Notre Dame simply wouldn't fare well against a team such as Alabama, a squad that very well could reach its third national championship in four years.
Could Notre Dame compete this year with a team like Alabama?
Many teams have looked great in the regular season until they got smacked by an SEC powerhouse in a bowl game. The fact is that this Alabama team may be even better than it was last season due to the overall balance on the offensive side of the ball.
Would it be great for college football to see this historic program reach the promised land once again? Absolutely. But the point of the rankings is two find the two best teams in college football, not the most popular, and Notre Dame hasn't shown it has what it takes to compete at the highest level just yet.
If you would prefer another boring national championship, be my guest, but everybody should be rooting for this Irish team to lose on Saturday to remove that possibility.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.