Survey finds fans excited about Irish

Updated: November 22, 2012, 11:59 AM ET
ESPN.com

Is Notre Dame's climb to the top of the BCS standings sparking additional interest in college football?

More than half of avid college football fans say yes, according to a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group for ESPN Research and Analytics, along with "SportsCenter."

The survey found that 52 percent of self-identified avid fans say they are more excited about this season thanks to Notre Dame's resurgence. Not surprisingly, 77 percent of Notre Dame fans say their team's run to the top is a "major factor" in why they consider the season more enthralling than in the past.

The survey of 1,025 college football fans was conducted on Nov. 20. The margin of error is plus/minus 3.1 percent.

But those same avid fans are divided on whether unbeaten Notre Dame is overrated heading into Saturday's game at USC. The survey found that 46 percent of avid fans say Notre Dame is ranked appropriately, while 42 percent think Notre Dame is overrated.

The survey found that only 39 percent of avid fans would vote the Irish as No. 1 right now if they had a vote in The Associated Press poll, while 24 percent favor second-ranked Alabama. Despite that, Alabama is the pick of avid fans to win the national championship (40 percent, to just 29 percent for Notre Dame). Even among Irish fans, 47 percent think their team will win the title, while 37 percent think Alabama will win.

Those results are similar to an ESPN SportsNation poll, conducted recently, which found that 65 percent of people who voted in the non-scientific poll said Alabama would win a four-team playoff, with just 23 percent for Notre Dame. Georgia and Florida also received votes.

More than one in three avid fans thinks Notre Dame gets too much media attention, according to the survey, while just 18 percent think the Irish don't get enough attention.

In terms of Saturday's game at USC, 55 percent of fans are picking the Irish, while just 27 percent are picking USC. The rest were undecided. Three in four Notre Dame fans (76 percent) are confident in their team's chances.

The current SportsNation poll has 67 percent of fans picking Notre Dame to beat USC on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).