Notre Dame Football: 5 Teams in BCS Top 10 Fighting Irish Could Beat
It went from being a cute little story to becoming a real possibility.
Notre Dame is now 8-0 on the season and a legitimate national championship title contender. Beginning the season as an unranked football team, the Irish are now ranked No. 3 in the latest BCS rankings.
The team is playing well on both sides of the ball and could go toe-to-toe with many of the top squads in the country. Regardless of whether you believe the schedule the program has played throughout the year has shown if this team is title worthy, you can't deny the way this team continues to find ways to win football games.
The only ranked team Notre Dame has left on the schedule is USC, but either in the national championship or other BCS bowl game, the Irish will be matched up with another quality football club.
Here are five programs in the current BCS Top 10 that Notre Dame could likely knock off if they were to meet in a bowl game at the end of the regular season.
We can start with the most obvious and get the Louisville Cardinals out of the way.
The team is great as far as Big East competition is concerned, and it’s awesome to see a smaller program in the Top 10 of the BCS, but Louisville isn't ready for the big boys.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is as accurate as they come, but he doesn't have the weapons around him to put a dent in this Notre Dame defense. He also has yet to see a defense that is as dominant as the one he would face if this matchup actually took place.
Defensively, the Cardinals are allowing opponents to convert over 40 percent of the time on third down and have had more than its fair share of blown coverages and big plays allowed.
The Cardinals have been barely getting by teams such as Cincinnati, South Florida and FIU, so there is little chance Charlie Strong's team would be competitive against this Notre Dame squad.
These two teams squared off last season, and despite throwing three interceptions, the Irish only lost the game by four points.
If they were to have a rematch this year, there is little doubt that Notre Dame would come out victorious and end a two-game losing streak to the Seminoles.
Florida State is really as inconsistent of a team you can find in the Top 25.
Sure, the club is 8-1 on the season, but it seems to be missing something and don't appear to be as dominant as their record indicates. Losing to North Carolina State really showed that the offense is way too dependent on quarterback E.J. Manuel to play well, especially with running back Chris Thompson out for the remainder of the season.
Defensively, Florida State is as good as it gets, but Notre Dame did show signs of life offensively against Oklahoma last week. As long as quarterback Everett Golson makes good decisions with the football and the receivers hold on to the football, the Irish are capable of moving the football.
This game would be another tight contest, but Notre Dame has shown more throughout the year than Florida State.
South Carolina struggled on the offensive side of the ball even with Marcus Lattimore in the backfield. Now that the star running back is out for the remainder of his junior year, it is hard imagining the Gamecocks scoring points consistently.
Quarterback Connor Shaw hasn't shown that he can be counted on to lead his team with his arm, and without the leader of the offense on the field, things could get ugly for South Carolina moving forward.
And although South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the country, the Gamecocks have allowed seven teams to run for over 130 yards this season, including Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia to total over 200 yards on the ground.
Even though Notre Dame hasn't faced a defense as great as the Gamecocks, or faced a player such as Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina has shown to be a shaky squad throughout the regular season.
If the offensive line of Notre Dame can continue to dominate up front, and the combination of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood continues to produce, knocking off a hobbled South Carolina club wouldn't be surprising.
All we heard last week was how the offense of Oklahoma was going to light up this overrated defense of Notre Dame.
Well, the Irish proved that this unit is no joke, as the Sooners were held to just 13 points, 15 rushing yards and the Irish sacked quarterback Landry Jones twice.
The reason Notre Dame would stand a chance against Oregon is that the Ducks are the complete opposite of Oklahoma.
While the secondary is the weakness of the defense, Oregon is a running football team that will play into the strength of the Irish defense, which happens to be the front seven.
Now, defending the spread offense is still no easy task and will be a new challenge to this Irish defense, but the Irish are dominant in stopping the running game and have an athletic defensive front.
With players such as Manti Te'o, Stephon Tuitt and Sheldon Day constantly getting into the backfield, the Irish could be one of the few teams that could slow the Ducks down offensively, giving themselves a shot.
The reason the SEC has had so much success over Oregon the last couple of years is because they are able to match the speed the Ducks have on the offensive side of the ball and can quickly close up those running lanes.
I think this year’s unit for the Irish would be able to do the same thing, resulting in a tight game and giving the Irish the advantage.
What makes this matchup interesting is that Jerry Palm of CBS Sports predicts these will be the two teams playing in the BCS Fiesta Bowl.
Notre Dame has faced many offenses that are basically one man shows.
The Irish were able to shutdown Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State, Denard Robinson of Michigan, Stepfan Taylor of Stanford and kept Oklahoma's Landry Jones in check.
It is hard to believe that it would be any different if quarterback Collin Klein was to square off against this defense. Klein is not only sixth in the Big 12 in passing yards; he is second on the team in rushing with 639 yards and has produced 28 total touchdowns.
However, with Notre Dame already showing that the defense is quick to the ball, keeping the senior quarterback in check on the ground shouldn't be a problem.
Other teams such as Oklahoma and West Virginia were able to make the quarterback beat them with his arm as well. But with Notre Dame proving it can defend the pass last week against Oklahoma, defending a less accurate quarterback in Klein will be an easier task.
Kansas State is a great team on both sides of the ball and have knocked off some top competition, but much like the game against Oregon, Notre Dame is built defensively to slow down the key offensive weapons that help the Wildcats win games.
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