Notre Dame's Bowl Destination Seems Clear, Its Opponent Is Not
Championship weekend is over and the postseason matchups are starting to become more clear. For the second straight season, three undefeated teams will earn College Football Playoff bids, and it would seem Oklahoma locked down the fourth spot after winning the Big 12 title.
Barring a dramatic turn of events, Notre Dame appears poised for the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame would then face a Big 12 opponent, but who that is depends on what happens with the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six selections.
Oklahoma and Baylor were the top teams in the Big 12, and the Sooners beat the Bears in overtime yesterday to win the conference title. Behind those two there was a four-way tie between Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State, which makes projecting the Big 12 bids a challenge.
The Big 12 champ gets an automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl, but if Oklahoma is the fourth CFP selection it would send Baylor to New Orleans. Based on bowl tie-ins, the Alamo Bowl would get the next pick and my understanding is they can pick whatever team they want. The projections I’ve seen has the Alamo Bowl selecting either Kansas State or Texas.
I would be a bit surprised if the Alamo Bowl passes on its first chance to have Texas since 2013.
Up next is the Camping World Bowl, and they get to pick between the other three teams. I have seen Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State as the picks there, but if Texas is still on the table I’d be shocked if the folks running that bowl would pass on a chance to pit the Longhorns and Fighting Irish in a matchup.
The curveball would be if somehow Oklahoma gets left out of the College Football Playoff. That would send the Sooners to the Sugar Bowl, and if Baylor doesn’t get an at-large bid to the Cotton Bowl it would send them to the Alamo Bowl, and the Camping World Bowl would then get whatever pick it wants from the four teams tied for third.
Notre Dame has never faced Oklahoma State or Kansas State, and while both teams have better records (8-4) than Texas (7-5), the Longhorns provide the Irish with a greater “name value” opponent.
Let’s be honest, at this point the bowl game for Notre Dame is about a great experience for the players and getting a bowl victory over an opponent that can provide the program with a recruiting boost.
Beating Oklahoma State and Kansas State would not do much for Notre Dame from a perception standpoint, but beating Texas - regardless of their record - would certainly provide a boost to Notre Dame’s recruiting pitch, especially against players in the Southwest.
The bowl pairings will be released today sometime after 3:00 PM (Eastern). The College Football Playoff pairings will be announced first, followed by the New Year’s Six participants and then the remaining bowls.