Notre Dame hasn’t fallen short of bowl eligibility since 2007, a year that invokes visceral reactions around South Bend. But at 1-3, Notre Dame’s chances of getting to six wins aren't necessarily healthy in 2016.
S&P+ gives Notre Dame a 21 percent chance of going 6-6, a 9 percent chance of going 7-5 and a 2 percent chance of going 8-4, so added up that’s only a 32 percent chance of becoming bowl eligible. The most likely records, according to S&P+, are 5-7 (30 percent) and 4-8 (25 percent). Notre Dame has a better chance of finishing 2-10 (3 percent) than it does 8-4, by these numbers.
(For more on S&P+ and the methodology behind it, click here)
The reason behind those, in all honestly, shockingly low numbers: only three games in which S&P+ favors Notre Dame to win going forward. Those are Syracuse (65 percent), Navy (71 percent) and Army (78 percent). Win probabilities for Notre Dame’s other games: 40 percent (N.C. State), 31 percent (Stanford), 28 percent (Miami), 36 percent (Virginia Tech) and 39 percent (USC).
FEI is more optimistic about Notre Dame’s bowl chances, giving the Irish a better than 60 percent chance to win games against Syracuse, N.C. State, Miami, Navy, Army and Virginia Tech. But FEI also gave Notre Dame a 90.8 percent chance of beating Duke heading into last week, which is less an indictment of the numbers and more an indictment of how poorly the Irish played against the Blue Devils.
Syracuse, though, looks like it’ll present a difficult challenge for Notre Dame. The Orange rank 36th in offensive S&P+, largely due to their excellent passing game (15th in success rate). Notre Dame ranks 78th in defensive S&P+ and 121st in passing success rate, which certainly looks like a concerning matchup.
Syracuse’s defense is bad, though (101st in S&P+), so Notre Dame’s top-15 offense should be able to put up some points. In short: Expect a shootout if Notre Dame does win on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
But if Notre Dame loses to fall to 1-4, sound the alarms. Or start planning your football-less vacation during bowl season.