Why Notre Dame Will Finish 2012 as Worst Undefeated Team in BCS Era

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Why Notre Dame Will Finish 2012 as Worst Undefeated Team in BCS Era
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There have been a total of 10 teams from BCS conferences that have ran the table since the BCS was introduced back in 1988. If Notre Dame continues on the pace it is on, the Irish will finish the season without a loss but will be considered the worst undefeated team in the BCS era, as far as powerhouse programs are concerned.

Out of those 10 teams that finished with an undefeated record, nine of them went on to win the national championship. Unless many other teams perform a choke job like Alabama did against Texas A&M earlier today, the Irish won't even receive a shot to play in the big game.

Shoot, there is still a shot Alabama could even jump Notre Dame with one loss when this season is all said and done with.

So without a national championship title, you could already say that this Notre Dame club is below the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers, 1999 Florida State Seminoles, 2000 Oklahoma Sooners, 2001 Miami Hurricanes, 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, 2004 USC Trojans, 2005 Texas Longhorns, 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide and the 2010 Auburn Tigers. 

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
No national title is just one of the reasons Notre Dame could be looked at as the worst undefeated team in the BCS era.

All of those teams were able to finish the regular season without a scratch and walked away with the ultimate prize at the end of the year.

The only other undefeated team left was the 2004 Auburn Tigers, who was snubbed for the USC Trojans and Oklahoma Sooners for the national championship game. Still, the Tigers went on to beat five ranked opponents, including a No. 5-ranked LSU club and No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs program.

Notre Dame has beaten two ranked teams inside the Top 10 this year in the Oklahoma Sooners and Michigan State Spartans, although it's not as impressive as you would think.

As far as the rest of the schedule is concerned, victories over Michigan State and Michigan aren't looking so hot at the moment. The Spartans are sitting with a 5-5 record, while the Wolverines are 7-3 and just needed overtime to beat Northwestern.

And when you begin to break down the rest of the schedule is when things get even worse for the Irish. The team needed a late-second drive by a backup quarterback to beat a losing Purdue team. It only won by three points to a BYU program that lost to an unranked Utah and only scored six points against Boise State earlier in the year.

That also doesn't include needing three overtimes to beat a Pittsburgh squad that lost to Youngstown State in the season opener. Even the most recent game against Boston College wasn't a convincing victory, as a 21-6 win wasn’t the blowout you would expect from a national championship-caliber program. 

Without this play, the Irish may not even be having this conversation as a possible unbeaten team.

Let's also not even bring up the controversial calls that took place against Stanford and Pittsburgh that helped play a role in the team’s victory late in the game.

While the other undefeated programs were led by quarterbacks such as Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Cam Newton, Notre Dame has Everett Golson. And while he is improving each week, he only has three games with over 200 passing yards and still makes questionable decisions with the football.

This is what you would expect from a young signal-caller, but his lack of production is the reason this Irish team struggles to put points on the board.

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The running game came into the contest against Boston College ranked 30th in the country but was held to under 100 yards against teams like Purdue and Michigan. It was highly ineffective against Stanford and has been hot and cold all season long, despite what the overall numbers may indicate.

Other undefeated units were led by receivers such as Jeremy Shockey, Steve Smith and Julio Jones, while Notre Dame doesn't have that go-to guy that makes everyone around him better on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, tight end Tyler Eifert is one of the best at his position, but even the senior hasn't stepped up the way many thought he was going to this season.

The defensive side of the ball is maybe something we can compare to the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, 2005 Texas Longhorns and 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide. The defense has been spectacular all season long, allowing over 20 points just once all year. It has also only allowed two rushing touchdowns all season and has a Heisman candidate in linebacker Manti Te'o.

However, the only true offensive team Notre Dame has played all season was Oklahoma. The Irish did do a fantastic job bottling up quarterback Landry Jones, but that has really been the only true test for this unit all year long. Teams like Navy, BYU and Boston College aren't scoring at record pace or lighting the scoreboard up anytime soon.

Will we remember this Notre Dame team like the 2001 Miami Hurricanes? Probably not.

The 2001 Miami Hurricanes was a real defensive machine that not only stopped you but had to go up against teams capable of scoring in a hurry such as Virginia Tech, Florida State and a Nebraska squad that scored over 40 points six times. The unit also produced several NFL players such as Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma and Sean Taylor.

The defense of Notre Dame is the reason this team is where it is at in the BCS rankings and should be considered one of the best this year, but it is in no way to be compared to some of the defenses that have helped produce national-championship victories in the BCS era.

All of the BCS teams that have run the table in the past were dominant on both sides of the ball and imposed their will each and every Saturday. Notre Dame struggles to win each week and seems to run into luck provided by the football gods and Touchdown Jesus.

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The offense can't score to be considered a threat on a weekly basis, and the defense has to play out of its mind each week for the team to win each game. There hasn't been one matchup this entire year that any Irish fan could feel 100 percent confident going into.

This has been a magical year for Notre Dame and its fans, but it likely won't end in a national championship victory. It also wasn't one of the more consistent showings or a convincing season by any means, as the Irish could have easily lost many games throughout the year.

You may say that good teams win close football games, but good teams also destroy teams that have no business being on the same field as you.

Notre Dame will likely finish with its first season since 1988 but will also be considered the worst undefeated team from the BCS era.

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