On Christmas Eve, the Fighting Irish will be facing off against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. Notre Dame's last bowl game was the Sugar Bowl against LSU, meaning that the Irish will be the away team for their second consecutive bowl game.
There isn't a whole lot to gain from this game for the Irish. If they beat Hawaii, they will end their streak of bowl losses and have some momentum going into next season.
That's about it.
In addition to basically being the away team again, they are only facing a 7-6 Hawaii team. I doubt that a win would quiet the Irish antagonists much.
Instead of not winning a bowl game since New Year's Day 1994, it will be that the team hasn't beaten a quality bowl opponent or won a quality bowl game since that day almost 15 years ago. A step in the right direction, but only a small one.
In fact, it might be more accurate to say a small shuffle. There's more friction involved than your typical step. The team shouldn't touch any metal objects for awhile.
If the Irish lose this game, Charlie better start praying for help.
While it may be difficult to judge what AD Jack Swarbrick would do if there is only minimal improvement next year, the Irish faithful have already shown their growing impatience with Charlie. It will be just one more thing for people to cite when talking about his job security and he would most likely need a three-or-fewer loss season to satisfy a great majority of the fanbase.
Also, Weis has repeatedly stated how bowl games are important not only for the furthering of the current season, but for the practice that helps lay a foundation for the following season.
This bowl game helps accomplish that somewhat. To quantify it, about two-thirds of it.
The Irish are allowed 15 practices under NCAA rules. But because of conflicts with exams, the Irish will only use ten of those practices.
There were rumors that the Irish were invited to any number of bowl games, most notably the Motor City, Independence, and Texas Bowls. Each of those is later than the Hawaii Bowl.
The Motor City Bowl is on December 26, so the two extra days (which includes Christmas Day) wouldn't have offered much help.
The Independence Bowl is on December 28. That's another two days. It would have definitely helped, but may not have allowed the Irish to use all 15 practices.
The Texas Bowl, on the other hand, is December 30th. While it's only two days after the Independence Bowl, it is almost another week to work with. It's biggest disadvantage is that it will be aired on the NFL Network, a channel that is not carried by all providers (such as my cable provider).
But that isn't the end of it. While the Irish were a few plays away from being 9-3, they were also a few plays away from being 3-9 yet again and they have shown that they can lose to one of college football's worst teams.
Even without considering who the opponent is, this game is by no means a given win.
There is, however, one possible advantage that this game has over all other games the Irish could have chosen, but the chances of it working out are small.
Manti Te'o is a heralded linebacker recruit out of Punahou School in Honolulu. The Irish are a longshot for Te'o, who is considered to be a lean towards BYU or USC, but it has been reported that they are increasing their stock. Perhaps an Irish win in his home state (along with a miracle or two) could sway him.
All I know is that I'm not going to miss a minute of this game.
Mele Kalikimaka, Irish fans.