Notre Dame Football: Irish's Road to the 2013 BCS

Connor Killoren@@Connor_KillorenSenior Analyst IOctober 21, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19: Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish lifts Troy Niklas #85 after Niklas caught a touchdown pass against the University of Southern Califonia Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After a 14-10 home victory against USC Saturday evening that brought its record to 5-2, Notre Dame controls its own destiny to the BCS. 

With the Irish on the outside looking in of the initial BCS rankings, reaching their desired postseason destination has become more difficult than originally thought; BCS rules stipulate that Notre Dame must finish within the top 14 of the final BCS rankings to qualify for either the Rose, Orange, Fiesta or Sugar Bowls.

Notre Dame certainly can make up ground simply by winning, but for now, here is the Irish's current set of circumstances.


Where Notre Dame Stands

Where Notre Dame Stands
RecordAP PollCoache PollStrength of ScheduleBCS Ranking
Jeff Sagarin


Biggest Obstacles to a BCS Berth

The Irish having dispatched USC Saturday evening was the first step in a long road to the BCS. But a slew of challenges lie ahead.

PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Members of the Stanford Cardinal walk out of the tunnel for their game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After playing beatable teams in Air Force, Navy and Pittsburgh, the Irish are tasked with defeating two quality teams: BYU and Stanford. During the Irish's undefeated 2012 regular season, the Cougars and Cardinal were each within one score of the Irish.

Luckily for the Irish, BYU travels to South Bend, Ind., for Senior Day, though Brian Kelly and Co. face a daunting trip to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on a Stanford team that was considered a championship contender prior to losing in surprising fashion to Utah two weeks ago.


Help Needed

For Notre Dame to qualify for a BCS game, it will need help from other teams, most notably Michigan and Oklahoma, the only two teams to have beaten the Irish thus far.

IOWA CITY, IOWA - OCTOBER 5:  Defensive end Shilique Calhoun #89, Jermaine Edmondson #39 and Matt Macksood #86 of the Michigan State Spartans sing their fight song after their match-up against the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 5, 2013 at Kinnick Stadium in Iow
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Both the Wolverines and Sooners are ranked within the Top 25 at 6-1, and will need to continue winning to bolster Notre Dame's strength of schedule. Michigan State, which is currently unranked despite also claiming a 6-1 record, will also help the Irish if it continues its winning ways.

Another team capable of helping the Irish in a big way is Arizona State, which defeated then-No. 20 Washington, 53-24, Saturday evening. The Sun Devils were ranked 22nd when they played the Irish in Dallas three weeks ago, and are likely to find their way back into the Top 25 in a matter of time.


Notre Dame's Remaining Schedule
Oct. 26at Air Force
Nov. 2ndvs. Navy
Nov. 9thvs. BYU
Nov. 30that Stanford


The Big Picture

Notre Dame's schedule currently ranks as the 19th most difficult in the nation, setting the Irish up for favorable rankings later in the season.

With five teams on the Irish's schedule primed to end the season ranked in the Top 25—Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State and Stanford—the Irish won't need to make the case for its schedule strength.

Thus, all Notre Dame should concern itself with the rest of the way is winning, as it must win out to be eligible for the BCS.


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