Notre Dame Football: Ranking Upset Likelihood in Remaining Games

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 03:  T.J. Jones #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish pulls off his helmut as he leaves the field against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Notre Dame Stadium on November 3, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Pittsburgh 29-26 in triple overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We've now entered that portion of the season where the seas have opened, an undefeated season is within reach and a loss here or a loss there by other teams in the rankings could propel Notre Dame to the National Championship Game.

Nobody saw it coming. And now, it's hard to imagine the Fighting Irish won't at least accomplish an unblemished season.

But nothing is ever certain, and the Irish still have to win three games before we start blaring the trumpets. With that in mind, let's take a look at the team's last three opponents and try to determine the the likelihood of an upset in each contest.


Boston College: 5 Percent

Anything is possible in college football, but Notre Dame should come into this one more focused after barely squeaking by Pittsburgh, 29-26, in three overtimes.

Plus, Boston College has been pretty darn terrible this season. Notre Dame should be able to run the ball at will, keep Boston College a one-dimensional passing team and unleash the pass rush on Eagles' quarterback Chase Rettig.

I don't see Notre Dame being challenged in this game.


Wake Forest: 18 Percent

With the USC contest looming, I could see this as a potential trap game for the Fighting Irish. It's a game they should easily win, but I've learned to never underestimate the upset potential of a trap week.

The 5-4 Demon Deacons have really struggled against elite competition this year (they lost to Florida State 52-0 and Clemson 42-13) and dropped games against a Maryland team they should have beaten and a Duke team they were certainly capable of beating.

But this is a team that has some nice talent when healthy and needs just one win to become bowl eligible, and will likely be looking to improve their resume for the bowl season. It's a long shot, but a Wake Forest upset is not to be totally dismissed.


USC: 45 Percent

Two of USC's losses came on the road, and the other loss came against the nation's best offense in Oregon. A home game for the Trojans poses a huge threat for Notre Dame as its final game in an attempt to go undefeated this year and potentially earn a berth in the National Championship Game.

Still, I find myself using a similar logic when trying to justify a USC win that I did when predicting Oklahoma would beat the Fighting Irish. They're a more complete team than Notre Dame has faced. They have a deadly passing attack that should test the Irish secondary. They're at home.

Those things didn't matter for Oklahoma, and they might not matter for USC either.

Still, you can't ignore that in Matt Barkley (2,750 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 65.2 completion percentage), Marqise Lee (88 receptions for 1,286 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Robert Woods (59 receptions for 656 yards and 10 touchdowns), the Irish face the best quarterback and wide receiver duo they've seen all year.

USC has three losses, but they are by a combined 21 points and two of them came against ranked opponents. Notre Dame will be the favorite, but this will be a major test.


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