#14 Notre Dame Deserved Better Bowl, but System Retains Flaws

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It’s a familiar refrain from Notre Dame haters everywhere: “the Fighting Irish get preferential treatment in the bowl selection process!” Well, that’s not true to begin with, and this year, the polar opposite is true. Having completed a 10-2 regular season, and ranked #15 in the college football playoff and #14 in the Associated Press, Notre Dame is headed to the Camping World Bowl, i.e. the Citrus Bowl’s junior varsity game.

In 2015, ND went 10-2 and got a Fiesta Bowl bid; where they lost 44-28 to Ohio State. In 1994, Notre Dame got to the Fiesta Bowl despite going only 6-4-1 that regular season. They lost to 11-1 and #4 Colorado by a score of 41-24 in that contest. The bowl system has changed a lot over the years, but the flaws remain.  

The Fighting Irish will face an unranked 7-5 Iowa State team in Orlando, where they’re favored by just 3.5 points. At sites like metaratings.ru where you can navigate through the the world of sports gambling, you’ll see the over/under on the Camping World Bowl set art about 56. Much like playing the slots, hitting the black jack table or spinning the roulette wheel, there is a heavy element of luck involved in wagering on sports.

You just don’t know which side is going to take the game more seriously, as these days, every non-College Football Playoff bowl game is essentially a consolation bowl. The New Year’s Six of course, still hold a lot of prestige and glamor, but whichever bowls are not playoff games that particular season still fall into the exhibition category.

The Irish might be facing an Iowa State with a lot to prove. Their 7-5 includes a one point loss to playoff qualifier Oklahoma and a two point setback to NY6 qualifier Baylor.

So one could see why the Irish aren’t favored by much, but at the same time ND deserved better. An unranked, 9-4 Virginia team, which Notre Dame beat head-to-head, is going to the Orange Bowl instead of the Irish.

So how did this happen?

Because it’s a flawed, weird system where strange things occur, and you have bowl games with bizarre names that even hard core sports fans have never heard of before.

Really, there is a long and complicated answer here, involving certain “if then” scenarios based on the CFP/NY6 rotation and what conferences the qualifying teams originate from. However, who really has the time and interest to go THAT DEEP with it?

The short answer is more than enough- Notre Dame is not in a better bowl due to the bowls’ conference tie-ins and the stipulations of those conference/bowl agreements.

Of course, the NY6/CFP only has 12 slots available and when you’re ranked #14, well these things happen. At Notre Dame though, it’s about about national championships, so if you don’t make the playoff, then wherever you land- there isn’t all that much difference.

The last time they played in Orlando, it was in the same stadium but in the better bowl and they won it. The 2018 Citrus Bowl win over LSU put quarterback Ian Book on the map.

It also helped propel the Irish to an off-season that preluded their 12-0 regular season, and playoff berth last year. Maybe this Camping World Bowl appearance could lead to something better in 2020?

“I think it builds obviously a lot of momentum going into your off-season when you’re able to win a bowl game,” saiD Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Sunday.

“Certainly doing it against quality opposition. Certainly LSU was a good football team. I think when individuals have really good performances, it does that, as well. Ian Book, Miles Boykin, obviously teamed up in that game to have big performances. I just think it catapults you into your off-season training, conditioning.

It builds a great deal of confidence as you get ready for the next season.”

“Yeah, no doubt there’s some momentum there that you build off of it.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

 

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