Notre Dame’s 2010 Bowl Options

Notre Dame’s regular season is complete, but its bowl destination is still far from settled.  Several games this weekend could affect the Irish’s holiday plans.  Here’s a run down of the bowl options for Notre Dame at this point.

Notre Dame's win over USC made the Champ Sports Bowl a much more likely destination for the Irish this bowl season. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Champs Sports Bowl (December 28 – Orlando, Florida)

This seems to be the most commonly projected bowl for Notre Dame after the Irish picked up win #7 on the road against USC this past weekend. The Champs Sports Bowl can pick Notre Dame once every four years as long as the Irish are bowl eligible. The questions here for Notre Dame are: will the Champs Sports Bowl pick Notre Dame over say a 9-3 West Virginia team (assuming the Mountaineers beat Rutgers and UConn beats South Florida) and will they use their one in every four years exception on a 7 win Irish team as opposed to waiting for a potentially better Irish squad in another year?

If West Virginia or UConn loses this week, this bowl seems like a lock. UConn certainly has a good chance to lose to a South Florida team that just upset Miami this past weekend, but West Virginia looks like a good bet to beat 4-7 Rutgers – especially after the beating Rutgers took last weekend to Louisville.

Maryland would be the most likely opponent for Notre Dame if they end up in Orlando.  Ironically, the only pre-season prediction I came remotely close to getting right was picking the Champs Sports Bowl as Notre Dame’s bowl game.  I had picked Miami to be the Irish opponent though.  Had South Florida not beaten the Hurricanes, Randy Shannon might still have a job and that prediction may have come true.

Hyundai Sun Bowl (December 31 – El Paso, Texas)

If the Champs Sports Bowl ends up not selecting Notre Dame, a Pac 10 bowl game seems the most likely bet for Notre Dame. Right now the Pac 10 has just 3 bowl eligible teams – Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona. Oregon and Stanford are projected for BCS games at this point and Arizona appears headed to the Alamo Bowl.  USC would be eligible based on their record, but they are in the first year of their bowl ban and cannot participate in a bowl this season.  That leaves 3 potential Pac 10 bids available to Notre Dame.

The Pac 10 has two other teams that could become bowl eligible this weekend – Oregon State and Washington. Oregon got shut out by Stanford this past weekend and will host #2 Oregon so odds are the Beavers won’t be bowling this year. Washington, however, has the Apple Cup against in-state rival Washington. With the Cougars sitting at 2-9, Washington has a pretty good chance to become bowl eligible even though they will travel to Pullman for their rivalry game.

If Washington wins and Oregon State loses, the Sun Bowl becomes Notre Dame’s best bet for a Pac 10 bowl slot as Washington would then head to the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Bowl sets up nicely for Notre Dame’s finals schedule should the Champs Sports Bowl pass on the Irish.

NC State or Miami would be Notre Dame’s most likely opponent here.  An interesting twist here is that former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is the current linebackers coach for NC State.

Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl (December 30 – San Diego, California)

If both Washington and Oregon State lose this weekend, the Holiday Bowl becomes an option for Notre Dame and would pit Notre Dame up against Missouri most likely. This would be the toughest draw for the Irish and would give Notre Dame the best opportunity to make a statement.  A season ending trip to San Diego would be a nice reward for the players after such a trying year too.

MAACO Bowl (December 22 – Las Vegas, Nevada)

Should Oregon State AND Washington both win this weekend, the Irish would have one final Pac 10 bowl slot to choose from – the MAACO Bowl. Again, this is if the Champs Sports Bowl passes, but this would pit the Irish up against a Mountain West team – most likely either BYU, Air Force, or Utah.  A rematch with Utah isn’t too interesting of a match-up, but a game against BYU is intriguing.

A match-up with Air Force would give Notre Dame a third look at the option and a third military academy opponent this season.

There have been some other bowls linked to Notre Dame over the past few weeks, but after some research it looks like these are Notre Dame’s only options. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will have an opening with the 6th place Pac 10 team not being eligible, but that spot then goes to an ACC team if they have an extra eligible team which they do.  Boston College is being projected here against Boise State. After winning 8 straight bowls, Boston College could be headed for their 3rd straight bowl loss if that’s the match-up they end up with.

The Little Ceasars Bowl has been mentioned as well, but the Big 10 has 8 bowl eligible teams.

With 6 bowl eligible teams from the Big East and 8 from the Big 12, it doesn’t look like the Pinstripes Bowl in New York would be an option for the Irish either.

Bottom line is, if UConn or West Virginia lose this weekend, the Irish are likely headed to Disney World for Christmas.   If both win, things could get a little interesting, but there are still plenty of solid options left thanks to the Pac 10’s struggles and USC’s bowl ineligibility.

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  1. What about the shearaton hawaii bowl ..
    rember when jimmy klausen and golden tate tore up UH warriors
    i know UH is going to the hawaii bowl but whose the other team could it be notre dame?
    that would be good but i dont think it will help irish recruting chances as we only have a few players that they will look at in hawaii

  2. Why is Boise State not going to a BCS bowl game. I know they lost to Nevada Reno, but they are still better than the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

  3. Ted,

    I completely agree! hindsight is 20/20 yada yada, but we can always dream on the blogs! And I would haved loved to have seen defenses defend both sides of the field with Tate and Monster Floyd. Not to mention a stud tight-end (take your pick in Rudolph or Eifert). But the simple fact we are 3-0 in November and Irish football is heading in the right direction is enough for me to accept our 7-5 year and probably a trip to DisneyWorld. I’ll pack my bathing suit!


  4. this is completely off topic, but how many games do we win this year with a healthy jimmy and golden? at least 10.

    for the future of the program, it was probably better to get all the young guys experience and have a down year, but just think…

    even including the navy debacle, the defense only allowed 20 points a game this year, compared to last years 28 (not including nevada). 8 points less per game last year and we would have been undefeated. this year, our offense just wasn’t potent enough to get it done (e.g., stanford, mich, mich st. and tulsa). i know it would have been retarded for jimmy and golden to stay and jimmy would have had to learn a new system, but it would have been sweet! no crist growing pains or tommy’s bazillion turnovers in 3.75 games…


  5. Irisheagle,

    Thanks, but I think that I did not communicate clearly. Obviously we want to go to a bowl game. My question is whether there’s any chance the Irish will turn down the Champs Sports Bowl in favor of going to a Pac-10 bowl this year (whether Holiday, Sun, or Vegas). There are several such bowls that might be available to us due to the fact that fewer-than-normal Pac-10 teams will qualify to go bowling this year.

    Then, we could “save” the Champs Sports Bowl for another year in which the Pac-10 bowls might not be available to us, but in which ND didn’t make the BCS. If we don’t make the BCS, then there aren’t a lot of options open to ND, and it would be good to have Champs Sports Bowl open to us in such a year.

  6. NM-

    I sure hope not. Those extra 15 practices would very much benefits both a first-year head coach, and a young talented team. Could you also imagine the message being sent to both the team and recruits? Dad always said, one in the hand is worth two in the bush…get a bowl bid, take it!

    And although I was at a wedding Saturday night, I spent the majority of the reception at the bar where the tv was…how awesome it was to see Troy BURN!!! Go Irish!

  7. Is it possible that ND might turn down the Champs Sports Bowl even if invited? The thinking would be that we might want to “save” our once-in-four-years spot in that bowl for a year in which not so many Pac-10 bowls are available.

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