This season has been truly unbelievable. I was optimistic in the preseason when I predicted 10 wins for Notre Dame but I never, ever thought this team would get there without having lost a game. This season has been a blast and I have every intention of enjoying the rest of the ride. This team deserves nothing less.
The only thing that Notre Dame can do at this point is beat Wake Forest and USC. That's it. If Notre Dame can finish 12-0 they will still likely need Kansas State or Oregon to lose. If all three teams win out it is unlikely that Notre Dame will jump them in the polls. In addition the talking heads won't let the SEC go quietly into the night. It is what it is.
I could go on all day about the assorted issues with the polls, media spin, perception and all of the other factors that make the BCS ranking process less than perfect. It doesn't really matter. Right now Notre Dame needs to win two games and either Kansas State or Oregon need to lose one. How likely is that? Let's take a look at their remaining schedules.
17 Nov vs Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are not a good football team, the game is in South Bend and it is Senior Day. Notre Dame SHOULD win this game comfortably. I'll prepare myself for a nail biter anyway.
24 Nov at USC: The Trojans are disappointed at 7-3 but will no doubt be ready to play when the Irish roll into the Coliseum on Thanksgiving weekend. Knocking off an 11-0 Notre Dame team would be the highlight of USC's season and they will come out gunning for that exact thing. Expect Kiffykins to pull out all of the stops in this one. Stand by for trick plays, deflated balls, dudes changing jerseys on the sidelines, Snoop Dogg's posse on the sidelines, and whatever else he can dream up. EG and the offense will have to score points and the defense will need to play out of their minds like they did against Oklahoma. Huge game.
17 Nov at Baylor: I might be the only guy who thinks so but this game isn't a gimme. Baylor doesn't bother playing too much defense but they have an offense that is good enough to turn this game into a shootout. This could be fun.
1 Dec vs Texas: The Horns haven't been real big on tackling this season but they do seem to have improved a bit defensively over the last few weeks. Mack Brown is taking serious heat in Austin and getting smacked around by K State in the last game of the season is the absolute last thing he needs. Expect the Horns to show up and make a game out of this.
17 Nov vs Stanford: Some don't think Stanford matches up well with the Ducks. Does anyone match up well with Oregon? The Quack Attack is the real deal but Stanford is a very physical football team that will land their fair share of body blows. Best case Stanford finds a way to win the game. Worst case the Cardinal send Oregon into the next week a little beat up.
24 Nov at Oregon State: This game is a bit of a toss up every season but the Beavers are truly a quality football team this year. This will be a very difficult game for the Ducks to win on the road.
30 Nov PAC-12 Title Game: Assuming the Ducks beat both Stanford and Oregon State they will have to turn around 6 days later and play again. Their most likely opponent will be USC who they beat 62-51 on November 3rd. I always like the team that lost the first game in a rematch.
The wildcard in this whole scenario would be an SEC team slipping back into one of the top 2 spots following the SEC title game. I don't see a one loss SEC champ jumping Kansas State, Oregon or Notre Dame if any of those teams finish the season undefeated. But if two of those teams lose games the one loss SEC champ will definitely jump into that 2nd spot and play the last team standing for the title. As you know tWWL wouldn't have it any other way.
So how will it play out? I personally think that the likelihood of Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all finishing undefeated is extremely low. Collectively they would have to win 7 games, and with the exception of the Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest game, all of those games should be challenging.
After looking at those remaining schedules I think Notre Dame is the most likely of the top three to win out. Things are starting to click for Everett Golson and the defense has been stellar all season. I like our chances.
I think Oregon is the least likely of the three to finish undefeated. The Ducks offense has been scary all season but that's a tough slate of 3 games for any team to try and navigate at the end of the season. If they survive it they will have definitely earned their place at the table.
I still don't know what to think about Kansas State. They might be the most "meh" #1 team ever. I do expect them to be challenged by both Baylor and Texas. If they win both of those games I can say right now that I will pick against them in the title game. I don't think they can beat any of their potential opponents head to head. Now that I said that they will win the National Title for sure.
Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish can only do one thing. Just win. As a huge fan of Notre Dame, and college football in general, I couldn't be more excited about these next three weeks. The potential for awesomeness is high.
How do you think this is going to play out?