- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Brian Kelly has said that his seniors will have a say in picking Notre Dame's bowl destination. He later told ESPN.com that he would rather not go to an ACC-affiliated bowl, since the Irish will have access to those next season. And he also mentioned that they are currently looking at bowls that take place before Dec. 29.
Where does that leave Notre Dame among bowls with openings?
The AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31) and the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1) both take place after Dec. 29, so they are likely out. There is a chance that the BBVA Compass Bowl could be open, too, but the Jan. 4 date would eliminate that as well.
And the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has an affiliation with the ACC starting next season, so you can probably cross that off the list. (Though its Dec. 29 date, the reported $1.8 million payout and Notre Dame's huge fan base in New York might give the bowl a chance.)
What, then, is left for the Irish? Here are some bowls with openings:
Beef ‘O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
Dec. 23, 2 ET., St. Petersburg, Fla.
(American No. 6 vs. C-USA No. 5)
The American currently has four bowl-eligible teams, though five-win teams SMU and Rutgers both play this weekend. If both win (SMU hosts UCF, Rutgers hosts USF), this game is out of the picture. If one loses … well, the opponent would likely make this game a lot less enticing for the Irish anyway.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Dec. 26, 6 ET, Detroit
(Big Ten No. 8 vs. MAC No. 2)
Penn State's bowl ban, not to mention the likelihood that is the Big Ten getting two teams into BCS bowls, has this game open. But the cold-weather location makes this a less-than-desirable choice for the Irish, based on their criteria. A matchup would likely be against the loser of Friday's MAC title game between Bowling Green and Northern Illinois, or against Ball State.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 26, 9:30 ET, San Diego
(MWC No. 2 vs. Army)
Army's absence leaves this game with an open slot. And what city has better weather 365-days-a-year than San Diego? Potential opponents could be Fresno State, Utah State or Boise State. (The first two play each other Saturday for the conference title.)
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information