Friday, October 13, 2006

Poll Position - Week 7 | by Jeff

The Irish have continued to creep up the polls since the Michigan debacle, thanks to solid play, the schedules of other teams, and a few upsets. On September 29th, ND was 11th in the BCS and 14th in the coaches poll. Today, the Irish stand at 6th in the BCS and 8th in the coaches poll. For all practical purposes, ND is in a tie with Tennessee and Texas for the number six BCS spot, with the three teams seperated by .0074 points (a little more than 1%). Maintaining this position is critical, as a top 8 finish guarantees ND a BCS bowl spot.

Climbing five to seven spots in two weeks was somewhat lucky, and the path forward from here is likely to be much more difficult. There are a few matchups which should give the Irish a bump in the polls (West Virginia at Louisville on November 2nd, for example), but not many. However, with solid play throughout the rest of the season and at least five more victories, the BCS is very realistic. Unfortunately, the Irish are far out on the fringe of the National Championship picture, and a lot of upsets will have to occur before we start talking about playing on January 8th.

Since the Irish are off this weekend, we can all engage in a stress-free weekend of scoreboard watching and rooting for the underdogs.

#1 Ohio State at Michigan State (Ohio State by 14.5)
The Buckeyes are unlikely to cushion Sparty's annual freefall. To borrow something Lou Holtz said (about Rodney Peete): It appears that the only thing that will stop Troy Smith is graduation.

#2 Florida at #11 Auburn (Auburn by 1)
A road game against a wounded Auburn team could spell trouble for the Gators, but don't expect a loss here to drop the Gators more than 3-4 spots.

#3 Southern Cal vs Arizona State (USC by 18.5)
The Trojans are looking very beatable these days. Let's just hope that the Irish are the ones doing the beating.

#4 Michigan at Penn State (UM by 6)
The first of a tricky two game stretch for the Wolverines. How will they play without Manningham, and can Penn State step up to the challenge?

#5 West Virginia vs Syracuse (WVa by 25)
The Mountaineers open conference play against perhaps the worst team in the conference.

#6 Texas vs Baylor (Horns by 29)
Baylor is surprisingly undefeated (2-0) in confernence play. That ends tomorrow.

#7 Louisville vs Cincinnati (Cards by 26.5)
Petrino may use the second half of this game as a scrimmage for Brian Brohm, so this one could get ugly.