How do the experts in Las Vegas view Notre Dame's slate of nine bowl foes faced in 2013?
Four are favorites and five are underdogs, though that reality is skewed as a pair of conference champions that faced Notre Dame will square off on January 1.
Below is a breakdown of 2013 Irish opponents in bowl games over the next three weeks.
December 21: USC favored by 5.5 over Fresno State: The 9-4, 25th-ranked Trojans are favored by 5.5 over the 11-1, 20th-ranked Bulldogs, this despite a coaching change and promised staff changes. USC finished with a 5-4 mark against fellow bowl teams while the Bulldogs beat the only four they faced, including upcoming Irish foe Rutgers, 52-51 in an overtime season-opening victory.
Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10 as favorites of 2.5 points on October 19.
December 26: Bowling Green favored by 6.5 points over Pittsburgh: The MAC champions and conquerors of previously undefeated Northern Illinois at season's end have been staked to nearly a touchdown favorite vs. the 6-6 Panthers. Pittsburgh beat three bowl eligible teams in 2013: Syracuse, Duke, and Notre Dame.
The Irish lost to the Panthers 28-21 as favorites of 3.5 points on November 9.
December 27: Washington favored by 3 points over Brigham Young: The teams enter the contest with identical 8-4 records and both encountered difficult schedules in 2013 with the Huskies facing eight bowl eligible teams and the Cougars seven as an Independent.
Notre Dame beat Brigham Young 23-13 as favorites of 3 points on November 23.
December 28: Kansas State favored by 3 over Michigan: The Wolverines looked their best at the season's outset and conclusion, defeating Notre Dame and taking then-undefeated Ohio State to the final gun. The Wolverines faced seven bowl eligible teams (including Penn State) but finished 2-5 in those contests. Kansas State, 11-2 one year ago and in the national title hunt until late November, slipped to 7-5 this season while beating two bowl eligible teams and losing to four others.
Notre Dame lost to Michigan 41-31 as underdogs of 4.5 points on September 7.
December 30: Navy favored by 6 over Middle Tennessee State: 7-4 with their annual battle against Army pending, Navy squared off against three bowl participants in 2013 and defeated one (Pittsburgh) while the Blue Raiders faced four and beat one (Marshall).
Notre Dame defeated Navy 38-234 as favorites of 16.5 points on November 2.
December 30: Arizona State favored by 13.5 over Texas Tech: The PAC-12 runner-up Sun Devils finished 7-3 vs. bowl-bound teams, losing only to Stanford (twice) and the Irish. Likely the second-best three-loss team in the nation, Arizona State won its last seven regular season games following its loss to Notre Dame in Dallas before taking one on the chin in the PAC-12 Championship game vs. Stanford.
Texas Tech conversely lost its last five, four of them in blowout fashion. The Red Raiders did not beat a bowl qualifying team in 2013.
Notre Dame defeated Arizona State in early October, 37-34, as underdogs of 6.5 points.
January 1 Rose Bowl: Stanford favored by 4.5 points over Michigan State: The Cardinal opened as a three-point favorite over the Big 10 champion Spartans but the line has moved quickly in Stanford's favor. The Cardinal squared off against nine bowl participants and won eight of those contests, losing only to USC. Michigan State faced six 2013 bowl participants, winning five times.
Notre Dame beat Michigan State in mid-September, 17-13, as favorites of 4 points. The Irish lost in the regular season finale at Stanford, 27-20, and entered the contest as 16-point underdogs, the program's biggest underdog role since the season-finale at USC in 2008.
January 2 Sugar Bowl: Alabama favored by 15 over Oklahoma: The Sooners faced six bowl eligible teams, finishing 4-2 in those matchups. Alabama likewise faced six and finished 5-1, losing to BCS Championship game participant and in-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl. (I typed that so at least a small sampling of readers could experience pain…)
Notre Dame lost to Oklahoma in South Bend, 35-21 on September 28 as underdogs of 3.5 points.