Will Notre Dame Get Screwed or Do the Screwing When It Comes to BCS Title Game?
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Even non-Notre Dame fans have to admit that the Fighting Irish have exceeded expectations thus far in the 2012 college football season.
But unfortunately for the team from South Bend, they'll get the shaft when the dust clears at the beginning of December.
The newest sign of this happening came with the release of tonight's BCS standings, when Notre Dame fell back to fourth place.
The first sign came much earlier in the season, when Notre Dame's opponents began to struggle in their other games. What many thought were impressive wins over Michigan and Michigan State suddenly became average victories.
Lastly, college football is a beauty contest, and the Fighting Irish, aside from their performance in Norman against the Oklahoma Sooners, haven't been pretty.
No one can argue the grit and determination of this team, especially in leaders like Manti Te'o and Everett Golson. But winning close games against Purdue, BYU and Pittsburgh won't impress anybody.
No longer is a win simply a win. Style points matter, and if Oregon, Kansas State and Alabama all continue to win, Notre Dame will get left behind.
Oregon is scoring more than 50 points a game and breaking scoreboards everywhere. Kansas State is led by Collin Klein and has been dismantling opponents all season long. Alabama gets a pass simply by being in the SEC, but their win against LSU silenced any doubters that remained.
Despite what the rankings say, who do you think is the 2nd-best team in the country?
The other third of the formula comes from computer rankings. They take into consideration many different aspects of a team's season, an important one being strength of schedule.
For Notre Dame, this looked like the place where they would shine brighter than everyone else. Being an independent team allows them to play quality opponents from multiple conferences. The thought was that victories over Michigan and Michigan State would be impressive enough to boost the Irish over anybody ahead of them.
But both the Spartans and Wolverines have had less-than-impressive campaigns, and Notre Dame's marquee showdown with USC at the end of the year is becoming less and less interesting with each Trojans loss.
Notre Dame is a polarizing, love 'em or hate 'em kind of team. Most BCS sites would have them in a heartbeat, because hosting Notre Dame typically means high ratings and a lot of hype surrounding the game.
It's hard to imagine a team like Notre Dame, which carries such a rich history, not being in the BCS title game should they go undefeated.
But the reality is that they are sitting in fourth place and have just one tough game remaining. If they haven't jumped Kansas State or Oregon at this point, they aren't going to. Not without one of those teams losing.
But not all should be doom and gloom for Notre Dame fans. If they continue to win, next season will bring an extraordinary amount of hype. It will probably mean a Top 10 ranking to start off the year. That should bode well for a team that had to climb up in the rankings this season.
If the top four teams continue to win, Notre Dame will get left behind. Fair or not, that's the result of the system in place, and that's what's going to happen.
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