Notre Dame plays three ACC opponents this football season and faced 14 from 2006-11. The compelling question now is: How often might the Irish play the ACC champion in future Orange Bowls?
In announcing a 12-year extension of their partnership Tuesday, the ACC and Orange Bowl said news regarding opponents was “forthcoming.” Attention instantly shifted to Notre Dame, a national brand despite recent struggles and coaching turnover.
Some, including ESPN, are postulating that a 9-3 record or better will earn the Irish guaranteed access to the Orange Bowl. I doubt criteria will be that simple — expect a ranking component as well — but certainly anticipate Notre Dame being among the teams available to the ACC and Orange Bowl.
Third-year coach Brian Kelly’s task is to return the Irish to that status.
In the 14 years of the Bowl Championship Series, Notre Dame has finished among the top 15 of the standings four times. The Irish were 11th in 2000, ninth in 2002, sixth in 2005 and 11th in 2006.
Notre Dame is 0-3 in BCS games, and each defeat was by at least 14 points. The Irish lost the January 2001 Fiesta Bowl to Oregon State 41-9, the 2006 Fiesta to Ohio State 34-20 and 2007 Sugar to LSU 41-14.
Notre Dame is 2-3 in the Orange Bowl, last appearing in January 1996, a 31-26 loss to Florida State.
Other possible Orange Bowl opponents for the ACC champion include teams not otherwise contractually obligated from the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and/or Big 12. The Big 12, formerly the Big Eight, had a team in the Orange Bowl 38 times in 42 seasons from 1954 to 1995.
One final Orange Bowl note: The game's move to a 1 p.m., kickoff in January 2015 and beyond is dramatic. The Orange Bowl has been staged under the lights the past 48 years.
Here, by the way, are Notre Dame’s recent results versus the ACC:
2006 — Defeated Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
2007 — Defeated Duke, lost to Boston College and Georgia Tech.
2008 — Lost to North Carolina and Boston College.
2009 — Defeated Boston College.
2010 — Defeated Boston College and Miami, the latter in the Sun Bowl.
2011 — Defeated Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College. Lost to Florida State in Champs Bowl.
2012 — Miami at Chicago’s Soldier Field, at Boston College, home against Wake Forest.
The Irish this season also play future ACC member Pittsburgh for the sixth time in eight years.
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