Notre Dame blew it all against Pittsburgh. They blew a BCS bowl. They blew a top-25 ranking that they didn't deserve. The Fighting Irish could possibly even be left out of a bowl game altogether if certain situations all align, and that's the real nightmare.
Notre Dame was waiting for the comeback that was just never going to happen with its current group of players, the quarterback being the prime culprit. And because of it all, Notre Dame could be sitting on its butt at home when bowl season rolls around.
This isn't the 2012 team...by far.
There is no magic Lennay Kekua voodoo on this team. There is no true leadership from Manti Te'o or Everett Golson where it's needed. There's no mystical aura that says that this Irish team is special and can pull any win out of nowhere at any time.
This Irish team is just plain average. And that's ok.
Finishing anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3 is assured now. And that's ok.
But acting like this team is anything more than a mediocre group of players is what's not ok. And the insufferable group that tries to convince anyone that it is a team that could contend for the national title is just plain wrong.
This Notre Dame team doesn't have the ability to compete with a legitimate BCS team. It struggles against weak teams like Navy, Purdue, Michigan State, and Southern Cal. It loses to fringe top-25 teams—at best—in Michigan, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh.
When they play a legitimate BCS-caliber team in Stanford, they are going to get slaughtered. They will get overmatched physically, outcoached and just plain outplayed. Expecting Notre Dame to be competitive is a pipe dream.
The BCS was designed to give fans matchups they actually want to see. Matchups that look even and will give everyone who loves college football something that is a fair, even game to watch. And Notre Dame wouldn't even be competitive against a top-12 team in the country.
Do Irish fans really want to see a repeat of last January's BCS embarrassment?
Notre Dame shot itself in the foot, but Tommy Rees pulled the trigger
There are quarterbacks who win games. There are quarterbacks who will lose games. And there are quarterbacks who will lose games in frustrating fashion because they'll flash actual talent to win the games they lose.
Rees is the last option. Golson is the first option.
And Golson couldn't come back soon enough.
In Notre Dame's three losses this season, the senior quarterback has thrown seven of his 10 interceptions and just six of his 24 touchdowns. There's no denying that Rees lost this game against Pittsburgh, either.
The first interception was in a 2nd-and-goal situation, tied at 21 with the ball at the Pittsburgh 4-yard line. A good quarterback makes sure that's either a touchdown or a throw-away. Rees made a frustrating mistake, and the Irish quarterback got embarrassed for it.
His defense chipped in and made a stop. They got the ball back on a punt and saved Rees' hide. So how does Rees reward them?
He goes for the big play and throws yet another interception. This time, the Pitt defender ran it back to put Pitt in field-goal range at a minimum. Rees had every opportunity to play a clean game and manage it right, but his interceptions doomed the Irish.
Wait, did you just say no bowl game at all?
Yes. No bowl game at all is very possible. This isn't 2014, where the Irish could claim they are eligible for an ACC tie-in despite not being a full member of the conference. The bowl situation was essentially BCS or bust. ESPN's Brett McMurphy explained it best:
If Notre Dame does not qualify for a BCS bowl and each of the 10 FBS conferences fills its respective bowl openings, the Fighting Irish could be left without a bowl.
"We don't have something set," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN at the ACC's spring meetings.
That means every conference would have to fill all of their tie-ins to push Notre Dame out. That means 70 bowl-eligible teams would have to emerge, and all from the right configuration of conferences. How often has that ever happened?
In the end, Notre Dame should still see a bowl game. Because these are ridiculous odds. There's going to be one random game without a legitimate tie-in. But unfortunately, it's going to be against a mid-major team like Western Kentucky or a fringe bowl team from a BCS conference.
That's a big reason why The Program suggested the Pinstripe Bowl as a possibility. However, that could even be a long shot. The most likely bowl at this point is the Beef O'Brady's bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla. against Conference USA No. 5 tie-in or the AAC No. 6 tie-in.
Not someone who should play "the great Notre Dame." Notre Dame finishing their season in a bowl game before Christmas would also be a true disappointment. But at this point, it's not only possible, it's likely.
The Notre Dame mystique is dead in 2013. And in 2014, Notre Dame is just one step closer to being just another member of the ACC.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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