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Notre Dame’s Opponents: Want Alabama?

NCAA Photos Archive

07 JAN 2013: Barrett Jones (75) of the University of Alabama prepares to snap the ball against the University of Notre Dame during the Discover BCS National Championship game held at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42-14 for the national title. Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The last time Notre Dame faced Alabama … well, anyone who follows college football, and many of those who don’t, knows how that went. The Irish are not scheduled to redeem that seven-year-old disaster for nearly another decade, hosting the Tide to open the 2028 season, but that matchup might arrive in less than a month.

It’s not likely, but it is possible.

If No. 4 Georgia beats No. 2 LSU in the SEC championship and No. 8 Wisconsin plays No. 1 Ohio State very closely in the Big Ten title game, if not winning outright, then Notre Dame would be headed to the Citrus Bowl for the second time in three years. The opponent on New Year’s Day would be either No. 11 Auburn or No. 12 Alabama.

The Bulldogs are touchdown underdogs and the Badgers more than twice that, so suffice it to say … It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Otherwise, the No. 15 Irish will indeed head to the Camping World Bowl in Orlando.

The headlines may want Notre Dame to meet Texas, but one can argue either No. 25 Oklahoma State or Iowa State would be stiffer challenges on Dec. 28, an argument this space agrees with.

No. 25 Oklahoma State (8-4), ranked No. 30 by SP+: Led by the nation’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard (309 carries for 1,936 yards and 21 touchdowns), the Cowboys beat both Iowa State and Kansas State this season.

Iowa State (7-5), ranked No. 23 by SP+: The Cyclones may remember this season as one of heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss. They fell by one point against Iowa, one point at Oklahoma, and by two points at Baylor. Iowa State did manage to beat Texas.

Texas (7-5), ranked No. 29 by SP+: The Longhorns have fallen apart as the season has gone along, losing three of the last five after coming within a possession of both LSU and Oklahoma. Their best wins this season came at home against Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

Kansas State (8-4), ranked No. 46 by SP+: The inverse of Texas, the Wildcats have closed strong, winning five of their last seven. One of those losses was inexcusably against West Virginia, but they also topped Oklahoma and Iowa State.

Looking past the immediate, future headlines should prefer the Irish play either Iowa State or Kansas State. When Notre Dame next looks for a head coach in 2-5 years, both Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell and Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman are probable candidates. If nothing else, they are building quality programs trending the right direction worth facing this month, something that cannot be said of Tom Herman’s progress at Texas.

Louisville (7-5): With a 45-13 loss at Kentucky, the Cardinals fell to their in-state rival for the third time in four years, but they still doubled their preseason win-total over/under of 3.5.

New Mexico (2-10): Bob Davie’s final game saw a 38-25 loss to Utah State, leaving the Lobos well short of their win-total over/under of 4.5.

Georgia (11-1): The Bulldogs reached their win-total over with a 52-7 win at Georgia Tech, but their Playoff hopes now hinge on beating LSU this weekend (4 ET; CBS), despite being 7-point underdogs. A 31-24 expected final score is actually a compliment to Georgia’s defense, given the Tigers have the No. 2 scoring offense in the country, averaging 48.7 points per game.

Virginia (9-3): The Cavaliers beat Virginia Tech, 39-30, for the first time in 16 years to win the ACC’s Coastal division and secure a date with No. 3 Clemson (7:30 ET; ABC). Whether or not Virginia pulls off a 28-point upset, it had no trouble exceeding the 7.5-win over/under.

Bowling Green (3-9): The Falcons finished their season with a 49-7 loss at Buffalo, keeping them from cashing the over.

USC (8-4): The Trojans have not fired Clay Helton, meaning it is less and less likely they will do so, partly because they exceeded preseason expectations even if they fell short of grander results.

Michigan (9-3): The Wolverines again fell to Ohio State, 56-27, keeping them in the under category.

Virginia Tech (8-4): Thanks to that aforementioned Cavaliers triumph, the Hokies pushed on preseason projections.

Duke (5-7): The Blue Devils ended their season on a positive note with a 27-17 win against Miami, still falling short of the over/under.

Navy (9-2): A 56-41 win at Houston simply kept the Midshipmen momentum rolling until the most important game of their season, against Army on Dec. 14 (3 ET; CBS). They will not need that game to cruise past the win-total over/under of 5.5.

Boston College (6-6): The Eagles gained bowl eligibility with a 26-19 win at Pittsburgh, exceeding a 5.5-win over/under, but none of that was enough to save Steve Addazio’s job.

Stanford (4-8): So ends the worst Cardinal season since 2007.

Decisively over: Louisville, Virginia, Navy.Over: Georgia, USC, Boston College.Push: Bowling Green, Virginia Tech.Under: Michigan, Duke.Decisively under: New Mexico, Stanford.