Fighting Irish Giving Thanks for No. 1 Ranking

Fighting Irish Giving Thanks for No. 1 Ranking

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With just one game remaining in its season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in an enviable position, one that can help them secure a spot in the BCS National Championship this January by beating USC Saturday night. The Irish are the last major college football team that is unbeaten and eligible for post-season play, and are giving thanks for its recent ascension to the top of the BCS polls.

BCS Title

Notre Dame assumed the top position after No. 1 Kansas State got blown out by Baylor and No. 2 Oregon fell to Stanford. Alabama moved up to take over the No. 2 spot and also controls its destiny provided that it beats Auburn on Saturday and wins the SEC championship on Dec. 1 in Atlanta. There is always a chance that an Oregon could slip in, but the BCS point spread is currently too wide for that to happen.

On Saturday night, we’ll know if Notre Dame has what it takes to put USC away on the field at the historic Los Angeles Coliseum. The 7-4 Trojans lost to UCLA on Saturday and fell out of the Top 25. Still, with a home game against the top team in the nation, USC won’t lose without putting up a strong fight.

Style Points

The advantage for the Fighting Irish on Saturday is to win and not worry about style, substance or the final score. Notre Dame has already established itself as the top defense in the nation, giving up just 10.1 points per game. On Nov. 3, the Irish needed three overtimes to vanquish Pitt, with other close games against BYU, Stanford, Michigan and Purdue. Those games have critics pointing fingers at the Irish, suggesting that this team lacks the true character to play for the BCS title. Then again, only the Irish remain undefeated at this point in the season.

USC began the season ranked No. 1 and would love to rise back to that level of expectation on Saturday by beating Notre Dame. However, Trojan QB Matt Barkley will not be calling plays after sustaining a shoulder sprain against UCLA. USC, winner of 9 of the last 10 games it has played against Notre Dame, will take the field against an Irish team that believes luck is on its side.

SEC Reign

Should the Irish win, they’ll most likely face the winner of Alabama-Georgia in the BCS title game. Notre Dame last won a national championship in 1988 and if the Irish’ magic season continues, it may be credited as the team that has finally brought an end to the SEC’s streak of six straight championships, perhaps signaling to all that football championships are also midwest born and bred.

See AlsoIconic Rivalry: Army Versus Navy

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