Just listen to the sounds from the airwaves, online and in print and it is obvious that love for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is breaking out all over the place.
Sports writers and commentators love to be in love with Notre Dame, and for the first time in years they feel like the Irish are giving them reason for hope that the leprechauns are back as the king of college football.
When you listen, you hear them gush about the tough defense being played by the Irish and the strength of the opposition they face the rest of the way. They dream about what might be this year with a rainbow that leads to a pot of gold in the BCS national title game with some pretender showing up to try and claim the rightful crown that belongs to Notre Dame.
Well, before you we all get so hot and bothered about what Notre Dame has done it would be appropriate to take a few minutes and consider what some of the numbers say about happenings in South Bend and where they really stand right now in the land of college football.
First, consider the strength of schedule that Notre Dame has played to this point. Here are the teams they have faced and their records:
- Navy stands at 3-3. Their biggest win came against Air Force in overtime OR Central Michigan. These two toughies are both 3-3 right now.
- Purdue is also 3-3 right now and looking over their schedule, well, it is hard to find what we might call a big win.
- Michigan State stands at 4-3 today and has a win against Boise State in the season opener. From there they have managed to beat two directional schools in Michigan and Indiana. Their tough games against Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State are all losses.
- Michigan is 4-2 with losses to Alabama and the Irish. The difference is how they lost to each. Nick Saban's Tide took Michigan to the woodshed. Notre Dame...well, not so much. The real question: Just who have the Wolverines beat with any talent at all?
- Miami is another 4-3 team with a loss to Notre Dame. There is not much to complain about here, and the Hurricanes do have a nice win over N.C. State (who took down Florida State).
- Stanford is 4-2 after last week's loss in overtime to Notre Dame. The Cardinal have an impressive win over USC, but a hard to explain the loss to Washington, who was throttled by Oregon and LSU. By the way, is there anyone who thinks the Stanford game should have been extended for an extra point after watching the replay? Yes, unless you are a Notre Dame fan.
This is not exactly the toughest gauntlet a team could have faced. And the remainder of the Irish games are not exactly "killer" either.
Take out Oklahoma and what is left? A game against a less-than-expected USC and a slate of sure wins.
Who does the Tide have to take down to make the BCS title game? Three Top-25 teams in LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. If they get past those games and the rest of their SEC schedule they will face off, in all probability, against either South Carolina or Florida.
What does Will Muschamp's Florida football team have to do? They have to beat Top-25 teams South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State. Like Bama, they then get another tough test in the SEC championship game against whoever emerges from the West.
The Oregon Ducks have a similar challenge. Their schedule features games against USC, Stanford and Oregon State. Not exactly SEC tough, but still pretty demanding. There is also the conference championship game to contend with.
Kansas State has the toughest row to hoe of all these schools. They have conference games against four Top-25 teams as they still have West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU and Texas to play. The bloom has been knocked off the Big 12 somewhat with West Virginia's loss to Tech and the weakness of Texas, but it is doubtful the Wildcats make it through unscathed.
Here is the fact today. If Notre Dame finishes the season undefeated, they will play for a BCS national title. It does not matter if an undefeated champion emerges from all of the other conferences above. Two of them are going to wind up undefeated and playing in a lesser bowl game.
Why? Well, the world of college football has on their "Irish Goggles" and is falling in love with a Notre Dame football team that would be the fourth or fifth-strongest team, at best, in the SEC, Pac-12 or Big 12.
Irish fans may not like to hear this, but while the major media world is in love with you, college football fans know what you really are. Overrated.