Notre Dame Football: Why Unbeaten Irish Deserve BCS Title Bid over Kansas State
It's clear that with an undefeated schedule in the books, the Oregon Ducks are the top team in the nation when the final BCS standings are revealed heading into bowl season. Behind them, the debate for No. 2 rages on between Kansas State and Notre Dame.
If all three teams stay unbeaten over these final three weeks of the season, it's Notre Dame, not current No. 1 Kansas State, that deserves to play for the BCS National Championship.
If you compare the Wildcats and the Irish, you can find some major similarities.
They both have a Heisman trophy candidate. Kansas State boasts Collin Klein, one of the nation's premier QBs and a guy that is battling concussion-like symptoms after hitting his head hard on the turf two weeks ago.
Notre Dame has Manti Te'o, the senior linebacker and consensus first-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has the most interceptions at his position (six) and continues to lead the nation's top unit in points allowed (11.1).
When you look at their schedules, there's a lot of green and a lot of ranked opponents. It's the common one that might tell the story the most about why the Irish have a legitimate case ahead of coach Bill Snyder's team.
Kansas State beat Oklahoma 24-19, behind two timely turnovers and being able to run out the clock late in the ball game. Oklahoma was ranked No. 6 at the time, and the favorite to win the Big 12. Kansas State also had to go to Norman to beat the Sooners.
Low and behold, the Irish did the same thing, but did it better. Notre Dame beat the Sooners 30-13 in Norman, completely pulling away down the stretch and showing off why it's so hard to stop Everett Golson in running situations out of the spread look.
Both schedules featured top teams. Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford were all ranked when Notre Dame took them down. Granted, it's been a down year for the Big 10 and Stanford could lose twice more when the season is over.
Both teams have struggled in games they should have won convincingly, but that's part of college football. Throw away a close win over Iowa State for Kansas State and the 3 OT thriller against Pitt for Notre Dame and we're right back where we started.
In the Big 12, Kansas State has wins over West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State—all ranked teams—in convincing fashion. However, all have dropped out of the BCS Top 25 and barring a late-season surge, we don't plan to see them anymore.
Assuming Oregon runs the table, who deserves the No. 2 spot and NCG bid?
So what it's going to come down to is the strength of schedule. Both the Wildcats and Irish are void of a conference championship game, a feat that will vault Oregon straight to Miami with a win. This race could turn out to be about which set of ranked opponents can put together a string of wins first, and which conference—Big 12 or the independent schedule laid out by ND—is the strongest.
The ranked opponents seem to even out. Both will have five on the resumes when it's over, and a common opponent in Oklahoma is the clear defense of Notre Dame's title chances. That game made Notre Dame look dominant, while it made Kansas State look like a contender.
With only two games remaining, there's little time to impress voters. Neither K-State nor Notre Dame are flashy, put up a lot of points or jump out off the page like Oregon does.
But when it comes down to hard-nosed football and taking a look at common opponents, Brian Kelly's team should be the choice for the title game. If not, it will be one last stab at the Irish from the BCS before we go to the playoff system in 2014.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer on the site, as well as a member of the Breaking News Team.
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