I watched a large amount of college football this weekend. Holiday weekends have a tendency to do that. As the dust settled on Saturday night it appears that Notre Dame is likely headed to Orlando to the Camping World Bowl vs. a Big 12 opponent. If I’m a player, I’m probably ok with this. I mean Orlando in December seemingly beats El Paso or even Nashville. Maybe they even make ND mouse ears?
As a fan I don’t like this game for a number of reasons. With no disrespect to other schools. Notre Dame is clearly better than Virginia, a team that will likely have four losses headed to the Orange Bowl. I would also put the Irish up against Oregon, Memphis, and Baylor without hesitation. These teams will all likely wind up in a better bowl than Notre Dame if the projections are accurate.
We will get various reasons why Notre Dame doesn’t belong in the New Year’s six. The biggest reason given will be the ugly loss to Michigan. Remember when “losing early” didn’t matter as much? No one will remember a five game winning streak to close the season with a 24 point average margin of victory. I will.
We will also get the schedule comments. “Notre Dame didn’t play anyone”. The “good teams” they did play beat them. Without going on a rant about how schedules are made years in advance. I’ll put up the usual whipping post – Navy. If I had a nickel for every time people mocked the Irish for playing Navy I would be a rich man. Those fans and analysts who mock the Irish, seem to forget how Michigan vs. Army was a “big game” this season. All off-season we heard about Army. People have also forgotten that Michigan needed overtime to hold off a 5-6 Army team. Meanwhile the Irish blasted a ranked Navy team 52-20. The tried and true response of the anti-Notre Dame faithful is the “Navy” argument.
Finally, the Irish are not “elite” argument. My answer to that is what constitutes elite? When the analysts have an answer – tell me then just what teams are elite?
2015-2019 Records Pre-Bowl Game
Record (Top 10 Finishes in Parenthesis)
Clemson 67-4 (4)
Alabama 65-6 (4)
Ohio St 60-6 (4)
Oklahama 57-9 (4)
Georgia 53-14 (2)
Wisconsin 52-14 (2)
LSU 48-14 (1)
PSU 47-15 (2)
Michigan 47-17 (1)
ND 46-17 (1)
Utah 46-19 (-)
Washington 46-20 (1)
For my money, aside from a few really “select/elite” teams college football is very balanced right now. Notre Dame is a very solid football team over the last five seasons. On their best days, they can compete with anyone in college football with the exception maybe of the “elite”? The loss against Clemson seems to support this, though they were very competitive against Georgia in both games and also managed to beat LSU during this time period.
At the end of the day, take the spot in the Camping World Bowl and go put a bow on a really good season. 11-2 looks pretty good from where I sit. Before I listen to or worry about the Tim Brando’s of the world telling me Notre Dame isn’t elite and doesn’t play anyone; I’ll join a scrap booking club. Happy Holidays!