We goin’ to the shipppppp!
Whew, that felt good. After Oregon and Kansas State lost a week and a half ago we no longer needed to argue that the Irish had a stronger resume than one of those two teams – it was a simply a win and you’re in scenario for ND and the Irish took care of business against USC.
Regardless of whether it is Alabama or Georgia that wins the 1-game playoff (aka SEC Championship) to face Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, SEC homers will undoubtedly spend the following 38 days anticipating a football clinic and an easy ‘W’ for either the Crimson Tide or Bulldogs. With 6 national titles in a row, the conference has generally earned the respect it has today. But to say that based on play this year that Alabama and Georgia are both significantly better than ND? Well, that’s just plain stupid.
Let’s take a look at the Sagarin ratings of each of the 12 teams Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia have played this year:
From the above numbers it is quite clear that on a week-to-week basis the three teams were playing similarly strong opponents though Notre Dame had a notably tougher slate from top to bottom. So what’s biggest difference when looking at these schedules? Only Notre Dame won every single game.
At the same time, it is hard to quantify what playing teams like Western Carolina, Buffalo, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern and Florida Atlantic does for a team over the long course of a 12-game season. Facing these teams can allow your starters to play what is essentially half a game, which pays tremendous dividends in terms of ongoing health and energy. Most people that watched the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game felt that Alabama was suffering the physical and emotional aftershocks of the game against LSU the week before — games against teams like Georgia Southern have the exact opposite effect.
I am not going to argue that based on these numbers Notre Dame should be expected to win heading into Miami. That would be as uneducated and asinine as claiming SEC dominance simply because the SEC has dominated in the past. The fact is that two great teams are going to face-off at Sun Life Stadium on January 7th, and both will have faced similar challenges in reaching the game. One thing I do know for certain: I’m going to spend the next 42 days dreaming about 13-0.