- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Saturday's loss at Stanford all but assured Notre Dame of a trip to the Champs Sports Bowl, where the Irish have, for the most part, been expected to land ever since an 0-2 start put their BCS-bowl hopes in jeopardy.
But Notre Dame's potential bowl opponent may have changed following Saturday's slate of games -- namely, Clemson's big loss at rival South Carolina (its second straight blowout defeat) and Florida State's win at Florida.
The fall of Clemson, which could be riding a three-game losing streak if it loses to Virginia Tech in Saturday's ACC title game, is steep enough that our Brad Edwards has the Tigers as Notre Dame's opponent Dec. 29 in Orlando, Fla. Mark Schlabach is sticking with Florida State.
ACC blogger Heather Dinich is sticking with the Seminoles to head to Disney World as well.
A Notre Dame-Florida State matchup -- in the state of Florida, no less -- would be a great draw for the Champs Sports Bowl, which pits the second Big East bowl choice (or the Irish once in a four-year cycle) against the third ACC bowl choice.
But the potential unattractiveness of a Clemson team riding three straight losses could force the ACC's highest non-BCS bowl tie-in, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, to choose the Seminoles, who would have the same number of losses as Clemson should the Tigers fall to the Hokies this week.
Add to that the very real possibility that the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which also has the No. 5 SEC choice, picks Auburn, and Clemson's chances of going to Atlanta look even smaller, as the pair of Tigers teams already squared off Sept. 17. (Clemson won, 38-24, ending Auburn's 17-game winning streak.) SEC blogger Chris Low currently has Auburn heading to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Big East blogger Andrea Adelson, to no one's surprise, has Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl over a Big East school as well.
Of course, a Clemson win Saturday over a team it thrashed by 20 on the road earlier this season changes this entire discussion. Then again, per tradition, the Tigers have looked like a different team late in the season, making a repeat performance against the Hokies less likely.
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1dMatt Fortuna and Gerry Hamilton