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BCS Bowl Projections: How Notre Dame Can Still Squeeze into the Mix

Tom PerryCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2011

BCS Bowl Projections: How Notre Dame Can Still Squeeze into the Mix

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    If Notre Dame were 4-0 right now, analysts would be talking about how the Irish could position itself for a shot in the BCS Championship Game.

    If the Irish had been a little more careful with the ball in the first two games, Brian Kelly's team could very easily be 4-0 right now.

    Instead, Notre Dame is 2-2.

    But not all is bad. The Irish are on a two-game winning streak and if Kelly can get them to keep improving, Notre Dame could make a run for a BCS Bowl Game (but not the championship).

    Notre Dame travels to Purdue Saturday night which should get the Irish back over .500 for the first time this season.

    Let's take a look at how Notre Dame can get back into the BCS mix in 2011.

Schedule

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    Notre Dame's next seven games are all contests the Irish should win. That even includes an Oct. 22 date with USC in South Bend.

    It starts with a trip to Purdue (2-1) this weekend. The Boilermakers have only won one of the past six meetings with Notre Dame which was a 33-19 win in 2007.

    From there in October they get Air Force (Oct. 8), USC and Navy (Oct. 29). The Trojans are always a tough opponent and it's a good rivalry. But Notre Dame gets two weeks to prepare for Lane Kiffin and USC. That should be enough.

    In November, Notre Dame might be feeling it has a shot. For the first three weeks it might get real as they play at Wake Forest (Nov. 5) before back-to-back home games with Maryland (Nov. 12) and Boston College (Nov. 19).

    The toughest games is the final one at Stanford on Nov. 26.

Timing of Stanford Game

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    The Irish might be 9-2 when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on Stanford.

    The Cardinal may be 11-0 and on the brink of reaching the inaugural Pac-12 championship game. It wouldn't be out of the question for Andrew Luck and co. to be thinking about a potential BCS Championship as well.

    Stanford will have plenty to play for, but emotionally the Cardinal could be in trouble following a big rivalry game with Cal. This could be Stanford's trap game.

    Notre Dame will be in position to steal a win against a better team.

Offense

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    There are many who don't think Tommy Rees is the answer at quarterback for Notre Dame, but the guy just wins.

    He's 6-1 as a starter and he has enough weapons around him to make Brian Kelly's offense click.

    Michael Floyd remains one of the best receivers in the nation not named Justin Blackmon, and Cierre Wood offers great speed and balance out of the backfield.

    Last week's 15-point output at Pittsburgh won't cut it, but the talent is here to put up some serious points.

Defense

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    Notre Dame's defense racked up six sacks against Pittsburgh as this is the best unit the Irish have had in years.

    Led by all-everything linebacker Manti Te'o, who has 36 tackles and two sacks, Notre Dame has the potential to hold many opponents to under 20 points a game.

    If the Irish play like they did against Michigan then ignore what you just read.

Coaching

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    Brian Kelly has been to more BCS Bowl Games than any current Notre Dame player.

    He led Cincinnati to consecutive Big East championships, however his Bearcats were embarrassed in both appearances.

    Kelly has an intense approach, which he has put out there for many to see on the sidelines during games. But one thing is clear about Kelly, the guy wins everywhere he coaches, and he will do the same at Notre Dame.

    He's the right coach to figure out a way to get Notre Dame in a BCS Bowl this year.

Virginia Tech in 2010

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    In 2010, Virginia Tech opened the season 0-2 and it looked like the Hokies were going to have a surprisingly lackluster year.

    But Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies turned things around and won 10 consecutive regular season games and the ACC championship.

    Of course, Virginia Tech earned the ACC's automatic bid, which is something Notre Dame doesn't have.

    If the Irish win 10 straight to close the season they will be ranked high enough and no one will keep them out of the Orange or Fiesta.

Will It Really Happen?

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    If Notre Dame doesn't fix the turnover problem there is no way the Irish can run the table.

    You could also make the argument that Notre Dame still has a quarterback controversy since Tommy Rees hasn't looked much better than Dayne Crist in three starts.

    Winning 10 straight is never easy, even for the best teams.

    Brian Kelly is pushing the right buttons right now, but a 15-12 win over Pittsburgh isn't overly impressive and it's hard to see how Notre Dame can make this type of run.

    The Irish might get to eight or even nine wins, but they will miss out on a BCS Bowl.

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