Thursday, November 16, 2006

Title Shot! | by Jay

Eddie Shore! Old-time Football!

I am approaching Poodlian levels of pumpitude. With the parting of the red sea last weekend we've got an outside shot at the title game and a very good -- almost certain -- shot at a BCS bowl. Even with a loss to Southern Cal, ND will still be BCS-eligible and a surefire lock for one of the big four.

Let's go over the rules, just so I have this right.

• If we're in the final top 8, we're automatically in.

• If we're in the top 14, we are eligible to be picked (and will be picked), assuming the bowls don't fill up with automatic qualifiers, and they won't. After you put in #1 vs #2, the six conference champs, and possibly Boise State (an automatic qualifier as a highly-ranked non-BCS conference champ), you'll still have at least one, and maybe two at-large slots open.

Bottom line? We're in, baby. Eric Hansen comes right out and says what we've been alluding to for a few days now:

Apparently the scenarios that could see the BCS fifth-ranked Irish (9-1) fall completely out of the BCS have dwindled to one.

Losing Saturday to Army (3-7).

That's not to say that Notre Dame's Nov. 25 showdown at BCS No. 3 USC isn't stuffed with plenty of bowl implications. It's just that a 10-win Irish team appears headed for the Sugar Bowl or Rose Bowl. An 11-win ND squad has an outside shot at the Jan. 8 title game in Glendale, Ariz., as well.

"There's not a chance Notre Dame would get passed over for a BCS slot at 10-2 this year," said Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett, whose bowl along with the Cotton Bowl would stand to benefit from an ND snub...

"I guess anything can happen," Cotton Bowl spokesman Charlie Fiss said. "but right now we're figuring Notre Dame is going to be a BCS team."

Catlett said the Irish have that look this year even more so than they did last year, when the Irish were the national surprise team. Even with head coach Charlie Weis' press conference comments getting contorted at times and thrown back in his face, even with the Irish regularly getting jumped in the polls on weeks when they win, even with the national media dissecting all of that and their schedule and their NBC contract and Weis' sideline decorum.

Especially because of all of that.

"The bowls don't care who the best team is outside of 1 vs. 2," Catlett said. "Outside of that, the rest of us are trying to get good, deserving teams that put people in the stands, give us good television ratings so that our title sponsor is happy and so we can write those big checks to the schools.

"The beauty of Notre Dame is the same thing with the Dallas Cowboys. Everybody in America that's a college football fan either loves Notre Dame or hates Notre Dame. Nobody has a neutral opinion about Notre Dame. And from a bowl's perspective, what better scenario can you have?

"People who love them are going to watch them on TV, and the people who want to see them get beat are going to watch them on TV. Either way, they get the highest ratings. And that's why whenever I get a chance to put them in my bowl game, I do it."
Jacked enough about a repeat BCS appearance? It gets better. Let's talk TITLE SHOT. Right now the BCS looks like this:

Rk Team W-L Harris Coaches CPU %

Rk Points % Rk Points %
1 Ohio State 11-0 1 2800 1.000 1 1574 .999 .930 .977

remaining: vs Michigan
2 Michigan 11-0 2 2688 .960 2 1513 .961 1.000 .974

remaining: @ Ohio State
3 USC 8-1 3 2458 .878 4 1373 .872 .860 .870

remaining: vs Cal, vs Notre Dame, @ UCLA
4 Florida 9-1 4 2441 .872 3 1381 .877 .800 .850

remaining: vs W. Carolina, @ FSU, SEC champ vs Ark or LSU
5 Notre Dame 9-1 5 2267 .810 5 1273 .808 .840 .819

remaining: vs Army, @ So Cal
6 Rutgers 9-0 7 2024 .723 8 1082 .687 .950 .787

remaining: @ Cincy, vs Syracuse, @ WVU
7 Arkansas 9-1 6 2234 .798 6 1248 .792 .680 .757

remaining: @ Miss St, vs LSU, and assuming 1 win, SEC champ vs Fla

Grab a machete and let's clear some brush. All we need to do is get to #2.

Ohio State-Michigan. A Michigan win helps us (and helps Brady's Heisman chances) although I don't think it is absolutely necessary. Even if Ohio State wins, the Irish would be roughly in the same situation. Might as well root for the meteor in this one; whoever wins, let's hope for a blowout that sinks the loser behind...

Southern Cal. A big win over Cal this Saturday could put the Trojans into a strong #2 position and ahead of the OSU-UM loser, ripe for the plucking by...

Notre Dame. Beat Army, knock out Southern Cal on their home turf, and we can make a strong claim for #2.

For good measure, we can also use any combination of losses by Florida, Arkansas, and Rutgers, all of whom have significant hurdles left.

It gets tangled if...the Buckeyes and Skunkbears play a squeaker, USC loses to Cal, or Florida wins out and beats Arkansas in the SEC game.

So book a hotel in New Orleans, but put one on reserve in Phoenix, too. Old Time Football!