Notre Dame is currently on the outside looking in as far as the BCS Championship Game is concerned, trailing Kansas State and Oregon in the BCS rankings. Therefore, if everything holds over the next two weeks, an undefeated Fighting Irish team could actually get left out of the biggest game college football has to offer.
But should they?
One of the biggest knocks that has hit Notre Dame is the schedule, which is perceived by some to be soft.
For instance, two weeks ago, after the Irish were taken to the brink by Pittsburgh, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News and a voter for the AP Poll had this to say when discussing why he ranked Notre Dame (at the time) at No. 4:
I don’t think the Ducks have two wins that can match Notre Dame’s combination of Stanford and Oklahoma. But the Ducks have a better overall body of work at this point.
Meanwhile, one-third of Notre Dame’s wins are over B1G opponents, and two of those teams (Michigan State and Purdue) are mediocre, at best.
Another one-third of UND’s victories are over so-so Big East/Independent opponents.
Say what you will about some of Notre Dame's schedule, let's dig deeper into Oregon and Kansas State for a moment.
Oregon started the season against Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech. The latter won't count toward the BCS rankings because Tennessee Tech is an FCS school.
Arizona, Washington and Arizona State are middle-of-the-road Pac-12 teams that are all likely to play in a bowl game, but are far from being formidable competition for a potential title contender.
Washington State, California and Colorado have a combined record of 6-25 (3-19 in the Pac-12). That leaves USC, Stanford and Oregon State as the best teams Oregon has played/will play this season.
Notre Dame has already played Stanford and has a game against USC in two weeks. Regardless of whether you think the Irish got help from the referees in the Stanford game, it's still a win in the record books that can't be changed.
Kansas State's schedule is better than Oregon's, but Notre Dame only has to be in the top two to play in the BCS Title Game. The Wildcats' best wins are over Oklahoma (7-2) and Oklahoma State (6-3).
However, Notre Dame also boasts a win over Oklahoma. What's more, if you like style points, the Irish's win was by 17 while Kansas State "only" won by five. Both wins came in Norman.
Notre Dame's schedule is not as difficult as it normally is, with teams like Michigan State, Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest struggling this season, but a win over Stanford, Michigan and at Oklahoma looks a lot better than the resume Oregon has built.
Plus, the Irish still have to go to USC and play. There is no way USC goes for 51 points against the Irish defense, so it is possible that the Irish could thrash an inconsistent Trojans team. What argument is there for Oregon after that?
If everything remains as it is, with three undefeated teams at the top of the BCS standings, Notre Dame deserves to leapfrog either Oregon or Kansas State and play in the BCS Championship Game.