Notre Dame cast in a new role

An undefeated ND will be one of CFB's biggest upsets

(No one asked me, but)...

We got through the pre-Christmas glut of bowl games, worked our way through a series of mostly forgettable Christmas week games and now are ready for the biggest holiday treat: the Final Four semifinals.

And here is the biggest surprise. Unbeaten and No. 3 ranked Notre Dame is playing the role of (huge) underdog and is likely to remain that way with a win on Saturday.

Let's look at what we have on the menu.

No. 1 Alabama vs. No 4 Oklahoma

No.2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame.

The boys from Vegas say it will be a regional party of Clemson vs. Alabama, which was the championship game two years ago.

Most of the remainder of the country would probably like to see a Notre Dame vs.Oklahoma championship game, which the Irish are still likely to be underdogs.

Let's see what happens.

***

Some quick observations about the first portion of the college football bowl season.

I don't about you, but the two bowl results which jumped off the pages at me when I saw it was Army 70, Houston 14. and Auburn 63, Purdue 14

70 points by an Army team which loves 80 yard, 12 play drives, all on the ground?

I'm not sure what happened to Houston, but the Cougars clearly had given up the ghost on this season, even before their embarrassing effort in the Armed Forces bowl.

The 56 point victory tied an FBS record for largest winning margin in an bowl game.

And Houston, which is representing the American Athletic Conference, was just one of the AAC failures in bowl games. The Cougars, USF, Temple and Memphis all lost their bowl games.

Thus far, only Tulane has recorded a victory, but the top tier conference teams, UCF and Cincinnati, still have a chance to somewhat balance the ledger. But both Cincinnati (Virginia Tech) and UCF (LSU) face difficult opponents.

Auburn started the season on a strong note with a Top 10 win over Washington in its opener and the Tigers closed their season on a high note by thrashing Purdue in Friday's Music City Bowl. In between, Auburn looked average at best in losing 5 games.

The first half was amazing as Auburn scored a touchdown on each of its first 8 possessions (in 11 minutes) to take a 56-7 halftime lead, the most points scored in one half by any bowl team.

***

If I were Boston College coach Steve Addazio I would be worried about ever reaching the 8 victory for a season plateau, something Addazio has not achieved in his six seasons at The Heights.

When a message from the heavens in the form of an extended lightning storm forced cancellation of BC's game against Boise State in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas, you know your dream is doomed.

***

The Miami season began with a disappointing loss to LSU and ended with an embarrassing loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. There wasn't much positive stuff in between for coach Mark Richt's team, which never seemed to be in sync the entire season.

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The powers that be still don't have it right when they are forced to schedule the two semifinal game in their four team playoffs three days before New Year's day, with 11 bowl games AFTER the semifinals.

That just seems wrong to me. College football gets it right in the years the semifinals are played on January 1 in the Sugar and Rose Bowls, which leaves only a few maverick bowl games being played after that date and before the national championship game.

The semifinals should be the closing act before the championship game, not tucked at the end of not even a New Year's weekend worth of games.

Conversely, New Year's Eve this season will be glutted with 6 bowl games. And most college football surveys show that New Year's Eve is the one day of the year when fans are interested in something else other than college football.

Still, the system is what it is and this Saturday is truly college football's day during the holiday season, with the NFL idle until Sunday and two semifinal games anchoring the end of the day.

The only weird thing is to see and undefeated Notre Dame in the role of a huge underdog (12.5).

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