The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have done everything that was asked of them this season. They won every game on their schedule for the first time since 1988, at the time under the legendary Lou Holtz. The Irish even have a standout Heisman candidate in linebacker Manti Te’o, who is playing lights out above any other defender in college football.
Even still, the Irish just aren’t getting the respect. Regardless of who wins between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game, the Irish will be underdogs against them in the BCS National Championship game. In fact, every single team in the SEC that currently sits in the BCS’ top 10, would be favored against Notre Dame in a game, according to Las Vegas sports books.
Outside of the southern states, you’ll hear that there’s an SEC bias. Conference rankings and preconceived notions have led to computers boosting up SEC teams, and leaving everyone else who has likewise records and performances in the dust. But those from down south will tell you that their brand of football is simply too tough; the speed and size of the players, the skill-sets of the coaching staffs involved and the hoards of blue-chip recruits make the SEC a league that is simply better than the others.
So which is it? Is there an unfair bias that favors the league, or are they simply better than everyone else in the FBS?
I’ve heard nearly every argument for and against it, multiple times, up and down the board. After hearing every shred of evidence possible in favor and in defense of the SEC, it all boils down to this…Notre Dame is the perfect team to be playing the SEC champion.
There’s nothing that anyone will be able to say that will end this argument. In order for the idea that the SEC is getting unfair treatment to be valid, Notre Dame will have to knock off the SEC champion. Until then, the notion that the SEC is simply a better conference has more steam, regardless of what anyone thinks about it.
But in setting all the ESPN and national pundit hype aside–can Notre Dame beat an Alabama or a Georgia? Theoretically yes, because they’ve both been beaten this season. Alabama has has shown weaknesses against both the LSU Tigers and obviously the Texas A&M Aggies. Georgia was simply awful against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Notre Dame can beat the SEC champion and take the BCS championship, but the biggest obstacle will be to convince themselves that they can do it.
Beyond that, they will then have to go out and execute. Notre Dame won’t be playing just Alabama or Georgia when the time comes, they’ll be playing against the entire stigma that is SEC football, and everything that comes with it.
Only by slaying the SEC dragon will the talk of unfair bias begin.