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Notre Dame Football: Bowl Projections for the Fighting Irish

James ToljCorrespondent IINovember 8, 2011

Notre Dame Football: Bowl Projections for the Fighting Irish

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    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish still have three remaining games left on the schedule before the team will get the opportunity to play in a bowl game.  

    We all know that the Irish are now bowl-eligible with six wins, but where will the team end up playing?

    Most projections have the Irish playing in Orlando. However, if fans have learned anything from this season, it is that when things are expected to happen they probably won't.

    Here are a few bowl possibilities—everything from the probable to the nearly impossible.

Autozone Liberty Bowl or BBVA Compass Bowl

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    Depending on how the SEC shakes out, the Irish could be selected to the Autozone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee in place of an SEC team. The Irish would be selected in lieu of a Big East school if the SEC does not have an eighth team that is bowl-eligible or willing to accept the bowl. 

    Granted, Notre Dame would have to lose three of its last three games in order to fall to the Liberty Bowl.

    So, if the Irish hit a losing streak and aren't selected to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (and the SEC doesn't have a team to offer), then the Liberty Bowl would be one of two worst-case scenarios for the team. The Irish would face the champion of Conference USA in the Liberty Bowl—likely Southern Missouri or Houston.

    With losing its last three, the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama is also a possibility for Notre Dame. In place of a Big East team, the Irish would face the eighth or ninth bowl-eligible team in the SEC—likely Vanderbilt or the University of Mississippi.

    Both of these bowls are very unlikely for the Irish. Notre Dame would have to lose the rest of its games and be passed over for other bowl opportunities.

Belk Bowl

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    With Notre Dame's eligibility to be selected in place of a Big East team, a few more losses could have the Irish traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Belk Bowl (the Irish would probably have to lose all three games).

    If the Irish attended, Notre Dame would be playing the fifth eligible team from the ACC in place of the third eligible team in the Big East.

    With a handful of games left, North Carolina State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia all could end up fifth overall in the ACC.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

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    If Notre Dame lost its last three games of the season (or maybe even two of three), the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in the Bronx will be its most likely destination. The game is held in New York City's new Yankee Stadium where the Irish played Army last year.

    Of course, a trip to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl would only happen if the Big 12 could not supply a seventh eligible team, or if the Irish were to be selected in lieu of a Big East team. If the seventh-placed bowl-eligible Big 12 team is selected to another bowl, then the Irish could take the Big 12's spot as well.

    The Irish could either face the seventh eligible team in the Big 12, or they could face the fourth eligible team in the Big East.

    For the Big 12, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M are all possibilities, but Iowa State, Texas Tech and Missouri are the most probable matchups. 

    In the Big East, Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville or Pittsburgh are the most likely opponents (although it certainly could end up differently).

Champs Sports Bowl

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    With two of three games left on the Irish's schedule being predicted as easy wins, Notre Dame has been picked to attend the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida by nearly every recent projection.

    The game features the third bowl-eligible team from the ACC against the second eligible team from the Big East (or Notre Dame once in a four-year period).

    While most projections have Florida State facing the Irish, anything can happen in the last few weeks of the season.

    Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Clemson and even a surprise like Virginia are all possible matchups for the Irish, as a number of interesting conference games are going to round out the season.

    Even if Notre Dame wins all of its remaining games, the Champs Sports Bowl is the likely destination for the Fighting Irish.

BCS Bowl Possibilties

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    The Irish would receive a BCS at-large bid if they finished among the Top 14 teams in the nation.

    What are the chances that Notre Dame gets the bid and a berth to a BCS game? Well, let's just say the odds are infinitesimal. 

    Not only would Notre Dame have to impress by blowing out all of its opponents in the last three games of the season (including an undefeated Stanford team), but at least 11 teams currently in the Top 25 would have to finish the season with four losses, or Notre Dame would have to jump numerous three-loss teams.

    A selection to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl or any other BCS game almost assuredly went out the window with Notre Dame's loss to the University of Southern California.

    Does that mean that a BCS berth is impossible? No, but even with the luck of the Irish, it would take more than a few miracles.

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