No Notre Dame bowl game this year? It is becoming a very real possibility with every loss from the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame hasn't missed a bowl since 2009, the final season of Charlie Weis' tenure as head coach. With today's 10-3 loss to NC State, the Irish dropped to 2-4 on the season, and calls for Brian Kelly's firing went out over social media.
Things might get worse before they get better for ND. Next up on the schedule is Stanford and its All-America running back Christian McCaffrey. After a bye, Notre Dame finishes up with Miami, Navy, Army, Virginia Tech and USC. Do you see any guaranteed wins on that schedule with the way the Irish have been playing? We don't.
Miami is in the midst of a renaissance season, and is ranked in the top 10. Navy is always a tough out, considering its option attack and penchant for giving Power 5 schools all they can handle. Speaking of service academies and running the football, Army is first nationally with 374.8 rushing yards per game. The Black Knights should be bowl-bound for just the second time in the last 20 years.
Virginia Tech is responding well under new head coach Justin Fuente and USC is still super-talented. Plus, the Trojans are Notre Dame's top rival, so you know they will be up for that game.
Now, Notre Dame still has an explosive offense, today's meltdown in the mud notwithstanding. But the Fighting Irish also have a shaky defense and have played undisciplined football on both sides of the ball too many times this season.
We're at the halfway point of the season. This isn't one bad game or even a rough two or three-game stretch. This is who ND is as a team.
Surely, the Irish have the talent, particularly on offense, to put up a lot of points and outscore a couple of these teams. But the bottom line is, this team is going to struggle to win four games and reach bowl eligibility.
If you're a diehard Fighting Irish fan, be prepared to wait until 2017 for the next Notre Dame bowl game appearance.