Notre Dame Football: Why Soft Schedule Shouldn't Count Against Irish
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As it stands, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are third in the BCS standings behind Alabama and Kansas State. They're fourth in the AP Top 25, with Oregon jumping ahead of them.
The argument many like to bring up to discern which of the last undefeated teams deserve a title shot is strength of schedule.
Occasionally, the decision is much easier when there are only a couple of top teams that remain undefeated.
This season, we've got four teams that may very well run the table. Wouldn't it be perfect if there was some sort of system that would let four teams play in some sort of tournament this season?
If all four of the aforementioned teams do indeed run the table, there are going to be just as many hearts broken as dreams coming true.
When a team is playing at such a high level, doing everything they possibly can to get to the top, and they still get denied, the system is broken. That's why a playoff is coming, but we have to endure the farce that is the BCS system for a couple of more seasons.
Unfortunately, strength of schedule is one of the only "metrics" we can use to pick teams that deserve a shot this season.
In the preseason, Notre Dame had one of the toughest schedules in the country, depending on whose chart you cared to look at. As it happens every season, teams don't pan out from preseason and massively disappoint once the season actually gets underway.
I think it's safe to assume that if Alabama finishes undefeated, its guaranteed one of the two most coveted spots in all of college sports, so let's not even waste time discussing it. The BCS will put an undefeated reigning champion SEC team in without blinking. That's a fact.
It gets a bit more sticky giving Notre Dame the edge over Oregon or Kansas State. All three teams have played or will play a total of five currently ranked teams by seasons' end.
Kansas State and Notre Dame have both played Miami and Oklahoma, and if you go strictly by the numbers, Notre Dame has had a slightly better showing in each matchup.
Oregon and Notre Dame's schedules haven't crossed yet, but both will have played Stanford and USC by the end of the season.
It may come down to who plays each team better. If it's a wash, then Notre Dame has most certainly had a tougher schedule against more name-brand opponents.
While Notre Dame has the second-best defense in the country (by the numbers) behind only Alabama, no one comes close to the offensive production the Ducks have. On any given Saturday if you go to an Oregon game, you're not leaving without at least a 40-burger.
On the same key, if you go to a Notre Dame game, you're not coming away with more than 20 points.
Here's to hoping Alabama and Kansas State lose at some point. Oregon vs. Notre Dame would be a fascinating matchup for the ages.
As it stands now, all Notre Dame has to do is win out and win convincingly. That's all the Irish can control. As they do every season, backroom politics will take place, but if the Fighting Irish play to their abilities, then they rightfully deserve a title shot.
Interestingly, the game that will likely put them in or out will be the very last one of the season at USC. They have the opportunity to silence any and all doubters with a convincing win on the road.
A team in Notre Dame's position couldn't ask for a better way to end the season. If the Irish hand the Trojans a big loss in the Coliseum, then no one with a shred of sense can deny them if they're undefeated at that point.
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