Now that all-mighty Alabama has lost, Notre Dame’s path to college football’s national championship game has become less crowded. Just two teams — Kansas State and Oregon — stand in the way of one of the most storied college programs in history having a shot at the title.
Most teams have just two games remaining, some three if a conference championship contest is involved. It is now serious business and prognosticating the future can be done with some certainty. What follows is a best/worse-case scenario for the Irish, but not in the usual sense. The first will seem like the best-case for ND fans, but in actuality would be the worst. The second may appear to be the worse-case, but would really be the best. Or would it?
The Escapin’ Irish defeat Stay Awake Forest! with a late field goal in overtime on Senior Day to move to 11-0. On Thanksgiving weekend, the Irish count their blessings again. In front of another College GameDay crowd and Lee Corso dressed as the Trojan horse, the Irish are very thankful that USC has an emotional hangover after playing arch-rival UCLA the week before with the Pac-12 championship game and southern California bragging rights on the line. Manti Te’o tackles Matt Barkley in the end zone for a game-winning safety as ND downs the Trojans 5-3 to finish 12-0 and awaits their bowl destination. Meanwhile, Kansas St. loses to No. 17 Texas and Oregon loses to USC in the Pac-12 championship game, 99-98, putting Notre Dame in the BCS championship game.
What this best-case scenario would bring though, is not the national championship. Instead, it would bring a game against the best one-loss team as decided by the laptop of some stat geek in New York. It doesn’t matter if it were Georgia, Florida (only loss was to Georgia), ‘Bama (only loss was to Texas A&M who lost to Florida by 3 and LSU by 5), Florida State (one point from being unbeaten), Clemson (only loss was to Florida State), Kansas St., or Oregon because ND is the weakest undefeated team of all time! They have won ugly all season. This would be ugly, but not a victory. A 30-point loss with the whole world watching would not be the way to go out.
The luck of the Irish finally runs out against USC after squeaking by Are You Awake Forest? Matt Barkley throws five touchdown passes to Marqise Lee, who later wins the Heisman trophy. College GameDay host Chris Fowler announces that they will NOT be coming to the city where ND’s bowl game is played because they are sick of watching the Irish play and thought they would have lost the first two times they covered them this year. Meanwhile, Kansas St. and Oregon run the table to finish undefeated.
National championship dreams are shattered, but 11-1 is very respectable especially since ND could/should very easily be 7-5. A BCS bowl game would still happen and when the big wigs with the ugly sport coats finally sort things out amongst all of the one-loss teams the Unlucky Irish get matched with … Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl. Uh-oh. Or LSU. Yikes. ND fans better root for Wide Awake Forest this weekend. A two-loss Irish team would definitely be favored against Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.