Notre Dame mailbag

Here's what's on your mind as Notre Dame enjoys its bye weekend at the midway point of the season:

Peter Wiegand from South Bend writes: Hey Matt, Where do you think Notre Dame would be in the rankings if they had beaten USF 27-23, and held Michigan from scoring a touchdown on their last drive and won that game? Thanks!

Matt Fortuna: Peter, what-if is a funny game, but I'd see the Irish anywhere from 4-7. I don't think they'd jump LSU, Alabama or Oklahoma, and how they'd rank against the rest of the undefeated teams is up for debate. Really, though, do you think they destroy MSU the way they did if they don't go into that weekend 0-2 with a chip on their shoulder? That's not to say they wouldn't win, but you can't fake the kind of anger this team was forced to play with after two tough losses.

Joe from Shrewsbury, Mass., writes: Hey Matt,Do you sense that next saturday's game against USC could be the tipping point for many recruits on the fringe of committing ND or another school? If the Irish pull this one off, do you think that it will be a huge momentum swing for recruiting?Thanks so much!-Joe

Matt Fortuna: Joe, I think a lot can hinge on the day in general, from the execution of the night game to the play on the field. It is certainly a great opportunity to haul in a few recruits, many of whom will likely be in town for the game. I still think those in town from last week are in shock at the 80 degree weather in South Bend in October.

Brian Styerwalt from Denver writes: Hey Matt,I've been a die hard Notre Dame fan for as long as I can remember. I have no doubt that they can win out even with Stanford at the conclusion. If they do that and go 10-2 do you think they'll finish in the top 8 and get a BCS bid or do you think they'll fall just short?

Matt Fortuna: Brian, it's a lot easier said than done, but I think if they end the season on a 10-game winning streak that that should be enough to make a BCS bowl, in addition to erasing the sour early-season memories from everyone's minds. It's no secret that Irish fans travel well, and they'd certainly be riding plenty of momentum if they get to that point. I wouldn't look that far ahead, however, as there is a whole half of a season left to be played.

Randy Olry from Fort Wayne, Ind., writes: Its obvious that you have a bias against Notre Dame. I always wondered why and then I read your Bio that you graduated from Penn State. You don't give Notre Dame credit for not loading up their schedule with cupcakes. You want to say that teams that have fewer losses should be ahead of Notre Dame. If Notre Dame did what other schools do and loaded up with FBS schools early and only play the tough games at the end of the year they would be in the National Championship hunt each year. Instead, they play tough teams all year. Thats why their fans are so loyal, because they have never ducked the tough games like all the teams ranked ahead of them. Thats why Penn State can't win a National Championship any more since joing the Big Ten. THey used to load up on cupcakes and be one of the top ranked teams. Thats a lot harder playing Big Ten teams. Notre Dame is two turnovers away from being undeafeated against one of the toughest schedules in the country. You will continue to have a bias for Notr Dame because your alma mater used to load up on cupcakes.

Matt Fortuna: Randy, here is a link to my power rankings from this past week, in which I rank a two-loss Notre Dame team ahead of a one-loss Penn State team. Some bias.