Despite a scorching 9-0 start to the 2012 college football season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are still two spots out of position to earn a trip to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami this coming January.
After 10 weeks, Notre Dame is No. 4 in the BCS standings, which means that it will need at least two of the Top Three teams to slip up by early December to have any shot at playing for the title.
Basically, a lot has to go right for Notre Dame. Therefore, we will highlight some more likely BCS bowl matchups featuring Brian Kelly's Irish this winter.
Check it out.
Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Georgia
The last time the Fighting Irish played in a BCS bowl game was six years ago in the Sugar Bowl. Of course, many Irish fans choose not to remember that game, as Notre Dame was blown out by LSU 41-14.
On a positive note, Notre Dame could very well wind up back in New Orleans in 2013 for a Sugar Bowl matchup with an at-large team. Assuming Georgia loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game this December, the Bulldogs could end up representing the conference in the Sugar Bowl as one of the top-ranked conference runner-ups. Florida and LSU are other potential Sugar Bowl teams, depending on how competitive Georgia looks in the SEC title game.
I would have to give Notre Dame a real shot to beat Georgia, though. Sure, the argument that the SEC breeds faster and stronger teams has been proven true time and time again, but Manti Te'o and company have proven the country wrong week in and week out this fall.
It's almost too hard to pick a winner in this matchup, but it would no doubt be closer than 41-14.
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
There's a real chance that Oregon makes the leap over Kansas State on the first weekend of December, as the Pac-12 has a conference championship game and the Big 12 does not. A 13th win would greatly boost the Ducks' resume and potentially move them into No. 2 in the BCS.
In that case, both Notre Dame and Kansas State would be left out of the title game. However, as Big 12 conference champions, the Wildcats would earn an automatic trip to the Fiesta Bowl where they could perhaps face the Irish.
If this were to shake out, you wouldn't find a more intriguing matchup anywhere else.
Two undefeated teams, and the fifth-best scoring offense in Kansas State taking on the second-ranked scoring defense in Notre Dame. I know Notre Dame fans will be deflated if the Irish miss out on the national championship, but a showdown with Kansas State in Glendale would be an incredible way to end the year.
The matchup between two disciplined football teams would likely come down to which Heisman Trophy candidate steps up, and which side makes the critical mistake.
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Florida State
An Orange Bowl clash between Notre Dame and Florida State would be a rematch of last winter's Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., which the Seminoles won 18-14. Of course, the stakes would be much higher this time around.
The Seminoles would likely come into the January matchup as ACC champions and with only one or two losses. Jimbo Fisher's squad would present Notre Dame with plenty of challenges on the field as well, just like last year. Florida State ranks third in the nation in scoring offense and defense. The Seminoles are scoring nearly 45 points per week, while only allowing 12.
An Orange Bowl matchup would definitely be the most difficult BCS scenario for Notre Dame. Its defense would have some success against E.J. Manuel and company, but Brian Kelly's offense would be in for a nightmare of its own.
Although many college football fans saw this battle last December, the January 2013 version would be must-see television without question.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!