Notre Dame celebrated a 13-6 win in South Bend this evening against the University of Michigan to start 4-0 for the first time since 2002(they ended up losing 28-6 against North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl). Before this week, Notre Dame was ranked a somewhat controversial 11 and should move up after this win against Michigan because of the loss by the 10th ranked team in the country, the Clemson Tigers. Notre Dame has always seemed to draw a favorable ranking from the BCS electing committee partly because of their prestigious program but mostly because they generate more publicity which equates to more money in Bowl games. A prime example of this is in 2005 the two loss Irish team was selected to go to the Rose Bowl over the one loss Oregon Ducks purely because a Notre Dame/Ohio State Bowl game would generate more money. What sealed the decision that the Irish would play in the Rose Bowl was the side story that Notre Dame's star quarterback's sister was dating the buckeye's star linebacker AJ Hawk. One of the most scrutinized aspects of the game by the media was the ridiculous question over which team Brady's sister would root for. The next year the two loss Irish were once again selected to play in a major bowl game, this time the Sugar Bowl, in which they were absolutely pommeled 41-14 by the LSU Tigers. My fear this year, is that a deserving team will once again be cheated out of a bowl game by the Irish. So the question becomes, does Notre Dame legitly deserve that #11 rank this year?
Notre Dame has looked pretty impressive this year thus far. They have only given up 36 points in 4 games which is a stellar 9 points per game. Their dynamic defense is led by Manti Te'o who is the teams leading tackler. They forced six turnovers against Michigan and held prolific rusher, Denard Robinson, to only 90 yards on 26 carries and Fitzgerald Toussaint to only 58 yards on 13 carries. On the offensive side of the ball, they have managed to score just enough points to win the game, often time relying on their defense to offset the offenses lack of explosive plays. The defense is clearly the heart of this team, and the team is surely to go as far as the defense takes them.
Notre Dame's impressive defensive numbers are somewhat deceiving. None of the teams that they have played thus far have stellar offenses. Michigan State is predominatley know for and successful because of their defense. They are breaking in a new rookie quarterback and their #10 rank was unwarrented and only happened because of a high preseason rank and a win against the ranked Boise State Broncos. In the game against Michigan, yes, Notre Dame was able to stop the formidable rushing attack of Michigan. But when you have a quarterback, Denard Robinson, that can't throw(proven by his completion percentage of 54.7 and his 4 interceptions against Notre Dame. When you have a quarterback that can't throw, you can line up more people in the box and drop back less people into coverage which makes stopping the run much easier. Until Notre Dame faces a real defensive test, I will not be convinced that this defense is quality enough to carry this team to a #11 rank.
So what will make Notre Dame deserving of that #11 rank? The Irish have three top 15 opponents left on their schudule. If they can stop the pass attack of Landry Jones(Oklahoma) ,Matt Barkley(USC) and the always tough Stanford offense then they will make a strong case for a legit birth in a BCS bowl game. I might even go as far as to say that a two loss Notre Dame team deserves a BCS bowl birth based on the uncharicteristic challenge of their schudule. If the Irish do happen to go undefeated or just have one loss (which isnt going to happen in my opinion) then they deserve to go to the National Championship game.
For years now, Notre Dame has been getting favorable treatment from BCS election committees. This is a trend that needs to stop. College football should be about the love for the game and award the BEST team, not the team that will bring in the highest TV rating or most money.