Friday, September 29, 2006

Poll Position | by Jeff

As Jay mentioned below, while the Irish schedule to date has been the toughest in the country according to both the computers and opponents records, the next seven Irish opponents grade out just below average, with a combined record of 13-12 (an average schedule would be against teams in the neighborhood of 14-11).

One implication of this is that Southern Cal is the only opponent that would enable the Irish to make a dramatic leap in the polls. Consistent winning, however, should allow the Irish to inch their way up week-by-week as other teams fall.

The absolute number one priority for ND (to state the obvious) is winning out, preferably in a convincing and consistent manner. But, while the Irish still control their own destiny with respect to BCS eligibility (ND is estimated to be 11th in the BCS standings), any shot at the national title will require some serious pratfalls from teams ranked ahead of them.

With eight weeks to go before the showdown in LA, there are plenty of opportunities for the Irish to gain ground. Here are a few other games this weekend (along with the corresponding spread) that could have an immediate impact on the Irish ranking.

#9 Georgia at Ole Miss (UGA by 18)
Expect the Bulldogs to rebound from their poor play vs Colorado.

#10t LSU vs Missippi State (LSU by 32)
This should be a warm-up game for LSU before traveling to Florida next week.

#10t Virginia Tech vs #24 Georgia Tech (VT by 9.5)
A Yellowjacket win is a double-whammy boon for the Irish, not only dropping the Hokies in the polls, but also helping out ND's strength of schedule and putting GT in the drivers seat to win the ACC.

#12 Oregon at Arizona State (Oregon by 1)
Will ASU bounce back from the beat down they took against Cal last week?

#13 Iowa vs #1 Ohio State (OSU by 6.5)
Certainly the best chance for the Irish to move up a single spot with a Hawkeye loss, but this could be a tough one for Ohio State.