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Friendly reminder: Too early to worry about the BCS

Oct 31, 2012, 8:27 PM EDT


Third in the BCS Standings. Fourth in the Coaches’ Poll. Strong with the computers. Weak with the pollsters. A November schedule that softens before USC. Opponents losing games that could cost Notre Dame in the end.

The variety of permutations and enormity of the variables that go into determining the BCS formula makes most football fans dizzy, and more importantly excited that we finally have a playoff coming in 2014. But until then, the BCS, and its much-discussed formula, is the only way to find the two teams that’ll play for the national title.

That proposition has many Notre Dame fans worried. Could the Fighting Irish, who many believed had the toughest schedule in the country heading into the season, be kept out of the title game even if they go undefeated?

The short answer: Yes. The slightly longer answer is: Don’t get too worked up about it yet.

Paul Bessire of has some fun statistics that should have Notre Dame fans feeling a little less worried about the possibility of being left out.

For those worried that Notre Dame won’t have time to end up in the top two in the country, consider that there’s roughly a 1% chance that the Irish, Alabama, Kansas State and Oregon will still stand unblemished at the end of the year.

  • Chances there are still six undefeated FBS teams on December 2 (after conference title games): 0.06% (or 1-in-1718)
  • Chances Alabama, Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon are undefeated on December 2: 1.22% (or 1-in-82)
  • Chances Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon are undefeated on December 2: 2.23% (or 1-in-45)
  • Chances Oregon is undefeated and Kansas State and Notre Dame are not on December 2: 8.79% (or 1-in-11)
  • Chances Notre Dame is undefeated and Kansas State and Oregon are not on December 2: 22.96% (or 1-in-4)
  • Chances Kansas State is undefeated and Oregon and Notre Dame are not on December 2: 13.31% (or 1-in-8)
  • Chances that Louisville is the only undefeated FBS (BCS eligible) team on December 2: 2.62% (or 1-in-38)
  • Chances that Alabama is the only undefeated FBS (BCS eligible) team on December 2: 15.83% (or 1-in-6)
  • Chances that both Alabama and Oregon lose in their respective conference championship games: 4.28% (or 1-in-23)
  • Chances that no FBS team is undefeated on December 2: 9.35% (or 1-in-11)
  • Chances that Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame and Kansas State all have at least one loss on December  2: 15.75% (or 1-in-6)

Of the four teams with realistic hopes of making the national title game (Alabama, Notre Dame, Kansas State, and Oregon), here’s Bessire’s breakdown on the likelihood of each team actually running the table.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship, though one of those games is against FCS Western Carolina)
Undefeated Chances: 54.7%
Closest Remaining Game: at LSU (November 2)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Games Remaining: 4
Undefeated Chances 39.8%
Closest Remaining Game: at USC (November 24)

Ohio State Buckeyes

Games Remaining: 3
Undefeated Chances: 28.8%
Closest Remaining Game: at Wisconsin (November 17)

Kansas State Wildcats

Games Remaining: 4
Undefeated Chances: 27.7%
Closest Remaining Game: at TCU (November 10)

Oregon Ducks

Games Remaining: 5 (including conference championship game)
Undefeated Chances: 20.2%
Closest Remaining Game: at USC (November 2 – at Oregon State is close)

Louisville Cardinals

Games Remaining: 4
Undefeated Chances: 16.6%
Closest Remaining Game: at Rutgers (November 29)

Notre Dame actually has the second best shot of the teams remaining to win out, and the Irish will beat the Trojans 65% of the time according to these statistics. (You’d have taken those chances in the preseason, wouldn’t you have?)

So while the Irish aren’t a lock to play in the national title game, they’re actually sitting better than you’d expect. And of course, this is just a friendly reminder that it’s still too early to start worrying about the BCS.

  1. ttirish - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    SC trash talking has already started. At the gym today and SC fans are already talking s**t. Hoping that the IRISH come into LA undefeated so they can put them in their place. Big talk for a team that got PUNKED last Sat. in Tucson. Stay focused ND or you will be yodeling like an SC yard bit*h. Go Irish!!

    • dickasman - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:04 PM

      Don’t worry Barkley loves to hold on to the ball and he’s not mobile, right up our alley… Get ready to see some Irish horse/Trojan pounding!

  2. dickasman - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Oh c’mon Keith, we’ve had our trap game scare. I really think we are going to run the table and play Alabama in the BCs game, hiiiiiiiyoooooooooo!

  3. ndfaithful - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Great article! This is exactly what I’ve been thinking. There are so many opinions written about all the reasons why the Irish cannot end up in the BCS championship game. They all start with the false premise that none of the three teams ahead of them can lose. It starts with the stupid notion that Alabama is a perfect team and then goes on to Oregon being just too fast and K-State blah, blah, blah…

    We win out, I believe we play for it all!

    GO IRISH!!!

  4. nudeman - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    I hope I don’t regret saying this, but if ever there was a year where we played USC in the Colinauseum and I felt GOOD about it …. this would be the year.

    USC is coming apart at the seams; the most penalized team in the country and paper thin at several positions. As long as ND stays healthy and doesn’t turn it over, no chance they lose in LA.

    • bernhtp - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:10 PM

      There is nothing I would love more than to kick some Trojan ass, but they are still very dangerous. They have a lot of elite talent that can still turn on. I think we will win, but will need some luck, e.g., no injuries to any of our key players.

    • ctfivula - Nov 1, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      I hear ya man I think we could go in there and spank those Trojans. Although this week I am their biggest fan.

  5. bernhtp - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Before we fully move on from Oklahoma and Notre Dame respect, I thought I would post a couple of links for your amusement. For shadenfreude aficionados:

    and for the shit-eating response:

    • nudeman - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      At my core, I’m a fairly vindictive guy so I’m a”All In” on the schadenfreude angle

    • 9irish - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:12 AM

      Why does the term “douchebag” come to mind? He did admit to ignorance, but putting something like that out in the clear is just insanity.

      As far as Keith’s stats (very good, BTW), I feel the same way. Just win the games. The others can fall on their own swords in due course.

      I remember watching College Gameday one time in Applebee’s…ND had just won, and it was early in the year (can’t remember which year…1990s), and Lee Corso proclaimed “they’re going to run the table”….I about spewed beer out of my nose. “Not so fast my friend!”

      One step at a time….ambush around every corner

      Go Irish

  6. audiguy - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    How about this…… Beat Pitt. One at a time till Miami. Ok I looked ahead:). Go Irish

  7. ndnut - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    We need to beat USC, but Oregon will likely need to do it twice (2nd time in CC Game) so I’m not too worried if we win out (a. Alabama still has their CC Game and at LSU to lose and b. K-State didn’t play THAT HARD of a schedule compared to us).

  8. mtflsmitty - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Does anyone know if Anzalone made it to SB Sunday and Monday? I don’t know if the writer here (see link) is informed, since he doesn’t even reference the trip Anzalone had intended to take this past weekend.

    • dudeacow - Nov 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      I’m pretty sure Anzalone is coming the Sunday and Monday after the Pitt game.

  9. drdannddad - Nov 1, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    By the way, if you haven’t seen those ICON videos yet, they are amazing! Here is a sample, from the OU game:

  10. jgater1981 - Nov 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    @smitty, it’s hard to tell if he made the trip without a time machine. Sorry, just busting your balls. The trip is this coming Sunday. I sure hope we can sway him from the dark side.

  11. drdannddad - Nov 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    The focus needs to be on Pitt, and Pitt only. If we don’t take care of business Saturday, nothing after that really matters. Pitt is the most important game on the schedule, but only because of what happened in the previous 8 games.

  12. keelio19 - Nov 1, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Love the stats Keith from the article, though statistically everyone said we didn’t have a chance in the OKLA game, so I’m not sold on those numbers. Let’s all be realistic here, I’ve read this maybe on this website or maybe it was the IE website, but if we win out, I find it very unlikely that we’re not placed in the BCS bowl game. This sport like all sports is driven by money, the amount of revenue gained from Notre Dame being in the BCS title game would be astronomical, record breaking, and even after the NC game the revenue would continue to grow and grow. As most of you know, Notre Dame is the Yankees of college football, either you love them or hate them so much you watch them to lose. Can you imagine the ratings in a title game with Notre Dame in it, I mean you saw the ratings just for the OKLA game, and by all accounts that wasn’t even the biggest game of the weekend (To non-ND fans).

    Regarding Pitt, they are just way way to thin at nearly every position. To have a new starter at guard has got to have the pitt coach worried, let alone the QB. Yes I know we haven’t played the greatest games at home, but we’ve played Purdue who at the time their defense was playing as well as ours have, of course not as late but that’s what happens when you end up losing to Notre Dame. You play your guts out to beat the irish, and then have no real drive the rest of the season when you come up short. After Purdue we played Michigan at home, and Michigan is always going to give us their best shot, especially when they have the opportunity to beat us 4 years in a row. Then came Stanford, who we all know is a very well balanced all around team, and have a stellar defense that gave us issues. Then BYU who again, very well coached and balanced team with another stellar defense who gave us some fits, but we did have Tommy in the game. Unfortunately for Pitt, they have a first year coach who probably gets reminded on a daily basis of his first game loss to Youngstown State. Sure they have a signature win against V-Tech, but let’s not be all up in arms with another team that is 4-4, they’ve played the likes of G-Tech, Austin Peay Governors, Bowling Green, Cincinnati (Who they lost to), North Carolina (Loss), Duke, and Clemson (Loss). V-Tech hasn’t won a game this season away from home( Pitt included), and they have a loss at home on top of that against Cinci. With injuries at almost every position, especially at the LB position which favors us in the running game, this game could get ugly early if we put some sort of points up on our opening drive (Please don’t settle for a 30 or less yard FG, that’ is Brindza’s kryptonite) . My other point to make, they will rely on their running game which again favors us, there hasn’t been a team to come close to their season average all year, let alone good running teams like Navy and Stanford. Pitt will be no different, and the umbrealla type coverage we play, there will be no opportunity for a big pass play as Pitt will be hoping for, let alone their QB and WR won’t have time to setup a long pass play. We’ve learned from the Miami game to never let anyone get behind us, and it sure as hell won’t happen against Pitt. I say we place our 3 man front and just have Shembo blitz that replacement guard all day.

    One last thing, what is the point of even putting those Ohio State Suckeyes in the stats in this article. Those cheaters aren’t eligible to play in any bowl game, let alone the NC game. I hate those cheating suckeyes with a passion, and they shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same article with the likes of Bama, KState, Irish and Oregon. Penn State and Ohio State football, you wanna talk about irrelevant, why don’t you chime up some articles on those two schools Reiley, you P.O.S. One’s a school known for cheating and having a coach who runs and plays the sick card when his team starts to fall apart. The other, well their known for Jerry and Joe, two sick sick men, well one’s not really sick as much as he is dead (Too Soon?), the other is getting the favor returned to him in the Penn State correctional facility, no it’s not the same thing as the Penn State college, I know it’s hard to decipher between the two.

    35-3 Irish !

  13. dudeacow - Nov 1, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I would be very surprised if more than one team was undefeated on December 12th. ND vs. K State in the championship game!

    • bblack55 - Nov 1, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      If USC and LSU can get it done this weekend, it all falls into place (assuming ND and Kstate win out). But there is still a big block of voters who think a one-loss SEC team is still better than any unbeaten team from anywhere else.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:10 PM

        There is absolutely zero chance a one loss team gets in ahead of an any combination of two undefeated teams currently in the top 4 – ahead of Louisville yes, ahead of an undefeated Bama, Oregon, KState or ND – never

  14. c4evr - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    It may be too early to be thinking BCS, but that didn’t stop me from plunking down some cold hard cash for a ticket to the Coliseum… And I’m checking my schedule and making plans for Miami in January. So dam it, I’m drinking the kool-aid and hoping like heck the Mayans were wrong. This may not be their year, but given the chances they had before the season started, it’s shaping up to be a magical year. Have to go now… I have to rehearse rooting for the Trojans this weekend so it doesn’t come off too forced.

    • mayo1010 - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      c4–much more likeable without the BK bashing! Keep it up!

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