The godfather of college football pre-season magazines, Phil Steele, published his first bowl projections for the 2013-14 college football season and even with the loss of Everett Golson, Steele has the Irish finishing their season in Louisiana in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
Steele has Notre Dame facing off against the SEC’s #2 team, Georgia, since he has his SEC Champion, Alabama, playing for the National Championship yet again this year – a projection that should surprise no one. Steele’s prediction of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl will raise some eyebrows, however.
Even before the loss of Golson, many were doubting whether or not the Irish had another BCS run in them after last year’s run was fueled by a flawless record in close games – a scenario that will be difficult to replicate again in 2013.
A Notre Dame-Georgia matchup would certainly be a hit with fans and TV ratings but might not exactly be the greatest of matchups for the Irish in terms of Notre Dame breaking out of their BCS slump. Georgia features a fast defense that could give the Notre Dame offense fits this year. A better potential BCS matchup for Notre Dame would be the Orange Bowl against the Irish’s new ACC brethren.
With Alabama in the title game, the Sugar Bowl would have the first selection of at large teams which would be Georgia in this scenario most likely as they would want to keep the SEC tie.
Steele has Alabama facing off against Ohio State in the BCS Championship which in theory could open up the Rose Bowl to Notre Dame in the event they qualify for the BCS and there isn’t another attractive Big Ten qualifying team. Right now Steele has Nebraska in the Rose vs. Oregon. Should the Big Ten have another down like last year when they sent an 8-5 Wisconsin team to the Rose Bowl with Ohio State team ineligible for the BCS, it’s possible they could select a strong Notre Dame team.
Assuming the Rose picks a Big Tean team though, the Orange Bowl would then pick which by this logic would mean that Steele believes they would pick USC as their at large selection leaving the Sugar Bowl free to select Notre Dame. After how many Notre Dame fans made the trip to South Beach last year, it’s hard to see the Orange Bowl committee passing on them though even if there would be some concerns over having the same team back to back years.
Steele’s Predictions for Notre Dame’s 2013 Opponents
Of the 12 opponents on Notre Dame’s 2013 football schedule, Steele is predicting all but three will be bowling at the end of the season. Temple, Pitt, and Purdue are all going to be home for the holiday’s based on Steel’e early predictions. All of the projects are below:
- Temple – no bowl
- Michigan – Gator Bowl vs. Ole Miss (Big Ten #5)
- Purdue - no bowl
- Michigan State – Outback Bowl vs. Florida (Big Ten #3)
- Oklahoma – Alamo Bowl vs. Stanford (Big 12 #3)
- Arizona State – Holiday Bowl vs. TCU (Pac 12 #3)
- USC – Fiesta Bowl vs. Texas (BCS At Large)
- Air Force – Poinsettia Bowl vs. Boise State (Army/At Large)
- Navy – Armed Forces Bowl vs. Colorado St
- Pitt – n0 bowl
- BYU – Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
- Stanford – Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma (Pac 12 #2)
USC in the Fiesta Bowl is a pretty bold prediction based on how the Trojans finished the 2012 season and the fact that they will be ushering in a new starting quarterback. The Trojans are very talented, but the scholarship restrictions from their probation are really being felt now and any injuries for USC would make any sort of BCS run a pretty daunting task.
Interestingly enough, Steele has Michigan State going to one of the Big Ten’s more prestigious bowls than he does Michigan. He has the Spartans in the Outback Bowl as the #3 Big Ten team with Michigan as the #5 team in the conference. Wisconsin is slated just ahead of Michigan State as the #2 Big Ten team and Northwestern is sitting between the intra-state rivals as the 4th team.
For comparison’s sake, last year Steele had Notre Dame projected to play in the Belk Bowl against Georgia Tech.