Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Five Most Intriguing Potential Bowl Matchups

Since the Irish upset Utah last weekend they’ve been unexpectedly thrust back into the bowl picture. Executives for lower end bowls like the Maaco and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl are licking their chops and lighting every candle they can find at The Grotto in hopes that Notre Dame will become bowl eligible and drop into their lap. It’s a relative rating bonanza and a guarantee of boatloads of tickets on both sides being sold.

The Irish have only one true bowl tie-in outside of the BCS (Champs Sports Bowl), which means they’re at the mercy of bowls where conferences don’t have enough eligible teams to fill their postseason slots. This leads to a lot of convoluted scenarios and potential matchups.

Today we’re going to wade through that quagmire and look the five most interesting potential bowl matchups. Let’s break down the potential landing spots, how intriguing they could be, and how realistic the scenarios are. For a pretty little slideshow of this article click here to go to Bleacher Report.

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5. Notre Dame vs Utah (Maaco Bowl)

What Makes This Scenario Happen: Irish beat Army and lose to Southern Cal…TCU lands in the BCS which leaves the Utes to fill in the Mountain West #1 slot in Vegas.

Intrigue-O-Meter: -10…I’ve seen this movie and it was great. I don’t want to see it again.

Realistic Meter: 6…Unfortunately ND’s bowl options are limited and they would take a rematch if there are no other alternatives just so they can get the extra practices.

The Skinny: Rematches in college football are terrible things. The Irish upset Utah and would have absolutely nothing to gain by taking them on again. Hopefully now that there’s a competent athletic director in South Bend the program will learn from the mistake Mike Wadsworth made in playing LSU a second time in the ’97 Independence Bowl.

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4. Notre Dame vs MAC Champion (Little Caesars Bowl)

What Makes This Scenario Happen: Notre Dame beats Army, Temple wins the MAC, Utah gets selected for the Maaco Bowl.

Potential Matchups: Temple, Northern Illinois

Intrigue-O-Meter: 2…Pretty good basketball matchup; not so much on the gridiron.

Realistic Meter: 7…Temple has a great shot to win the MAC, this would be a better spot for ND to land than a potential Utah rematch in the Maaco Bowl.

The Skinny: This doesn’t do much in terms of generating excitement within the Irish fan base or the opponent’s (because that would infer there is a Temple Football or Northern Illinois Fan Base). The game is played in Detroit the day after Christmas, which means ND may not get all 15 practices in. This is just about as boring as it gets.

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3. Notre Dame vs Nevada (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)

What Makes This Scenario Happen: Irish beat Army…Nevada loses to Boise State and Boise lands somewhere in the BCS.

Intrigue-O-Meter: 5…Nevada has a high-flying offense, but we just played them last year.

Realistic Meter: 8…This looks pretty likely—if everyone just holds court and no major upsets happen (like Boise St or TCU losing or Notre Dame beating Southern Cal) this is probably whether the Irish land.

The Skinny: It isn’t a particularly sexy matchup (especially since we just saw it last year), but the Wolf Pack offense is fun to watch and it could make for an entertaining shootout. This is also a very late game (January 9th) which means the Irish could use all 15 practices, which honestly may be priority number one.

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2. Notre Dame vs Boise State/TCU (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl/Maaco Bowl)

What Makes This Scenario Happen: Irish beat Army and lose to Southern Cal…Boise State or TCU gets upset or the BCS flatout screws one or the other, leaving them out in the cold.

Intrigue-O-Meter: 9…Ultimate New School Upstart vs Ultimate Old School Stalwart

Realistic Meter: 1…Scenarios where the Horned Frogs and Broncos get left out of the Championship game are pretty realistic, but it’s tough—though not impossible—to imagine the worst-case scenario where they both finish Top 5 in the BCS but don’t get a seat at the Big Boy Table.

The Skinny: The New School David vs The Old School Goliath—except if David had a gun instead of a rock. Notre Dame would have an incredibly tough matchup against one of the best-coached teams in the country, but this is another showdown that would have fans, media, and bowl/television executives alike foaming at the mouth.

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1. Notre Dame vs ACC #3 (Champs Sports Bowl)

What Makes This Scenario Happen: Irish beat Army and upset Southern Cal

Potential Matchups: Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Miami

Intrigue-O-Meter: 10…Catholics vs Criminoles: The Remix, Irish vs Clemson, an NC State rematch from the Willingham Gator Bowl? Um, yes please.

Realistic Meter: 3…There’s no chance this happens unless Notre Dame upsets the Trojans in LA—which is a stretch.

The Skinny: None of the potential teams are on future Notre Dame schedules except Miami and all would be very interesting matchups. Now the Champs Sports Bowl would probably get some heat for choosing a 7-5 Notre Dame over a Big East squad with more wins, but these games would be guaranteed sellouts and the Irish would provide a 1000x more interesting opponent than whoever the Big East would deliver (Syracuse? Child Please…). Sign me up for an Irish New Years in Disney World baby!


  1. I like this post Matthew. I would shoot myself though if Boise got stuck playing ND.

  2. do some research the next time you decide to write an article

  3. The only reason I'm hoping for a Dec 26th bowl in Detroit is that I'd actually get to go to the game! I'll take what's best for the team and the school, though, I guess.

  4. Champ Sports Bowl is the #3 ACC team. Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium is a real possibility if the Irish go 6-6. 7-5 Orlando. dumbass

  5. Why would anybody want to go to Detroit in December to play a MAC team?

  6. Patrick--

    Perhaps my presentation is a bit confusing. The ACC gets an automatic bid to the BCS. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl gets their first pick of the rest of the litter, ACC second pick. That's the way in which I meant to convey it, not as "The ACC's #2 team." I've edited the article so that it's clearer and goes along with what most sites have as "ACC No. 3."

    I appreciate your input. Now feel free to go sit on your thumb and rotate, jackass.

  7. Since you didn't list the Terps as a potential #3 opponent are you assuming that we clinch either the first or second ACC spot?

    That would mean we'd have to knock off FSU this weekend and NC State next weekend for a chance to take on VT in the ACC championship game.

    Just curious, but if that's what you're saying...then I like it.

  8. Wally--

    The Terps are a possibility but I don't think nearly as likely as the other schools listed even if they finish 2nd or 3rd overall in the ACC. The way the ACC bowl selection process works is that the bowls get to choose basically whoever they want for their slot--it doesn't have to go by the standings.

    My best guess is that the four teams listed (FSU, Clemson, Miami, NC State) would all have a better chance of being selected for the Champs Sports Bowl against ND than Maryland because they'd be better draws in terms of TV ratings and ticket sales. The game is in Orlando--I don't think that the Terps would outdraw any of those four listed above, especially in that locale.

    Unfortunately for the Terps it could be a long fall on the bowl ladder if they lose again. ESPN has them slotted in the Sun Bowl (ACC #4) or the Meineke Car Care Bowl (ACC #5) while CNNSI has them in the Military Bowl (ACC #8).

    As a personal preference, I don't want to face Maryland since they're on the schedule next year. We'll have plenty of time to trash talk your MD friends all off-season and then tailgate our faces off in Landover next year.

  9. We can only use the Champs Bowl once in the next four years (assuming these agreements remain in place that long). I am not sure that if we were 7-5 we wouldn't take a 'lesser' bowl to avoid burning that option. Probably make our BE brethren feel better too.

  10. FYI: Temple probably won't win the MAC; might not even play in the MAC title game. After Ohio U. beat Temple, Bobcats control their own destiny and win the MAC East with a win next Saturday over Kent ...

  11. Do you have Utah in the Maaco Bowl because Maaco is somehow required to take the next highest MWC team in the standings?

    I would think that they would take Air Force or SDSU ahead of Utah if it gave them a better chance to land the Irish.