NCAA's Notre Dame in position to take football's national title
By TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) jumps into the arms of teammate Zack Martin (70) after a touchdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half of their NCAA college football game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana November 17, 2012. (REUTERS)
Just kidding, Fighting Irish fans.
Although I've never been one to shy away from poking the bear that is the long-suffering Notre Dame fan, here's hoping the Irish actually get a shot at the national title come Jan. 7 in Miami.
It's been a rough couple decades for Irish supporters, so let's cut 'em some slack.
Besides, even with head coach Brian Kelly finally taking the reins off the offence, the nation's No. 1 squad doesn't stand a chance against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game.
Even staunch Notre Dame supporters are wincing at the notion of playing the defending champs in the title tilt.
But to be the best … well … you know the rest.
Irish eyes were certainly watching in horror as the Oregon Ducks blew that pivotal battle last Saturday night against the Stanford Cardinal that — with a Ducks victory — would have pitted Oregon vs. Notre Dame in the 1-2 game.
After all, the Ducks Quack Attack facing the vaunted Irish defence would have made for a heck of a finale.
Now. it's 'Bama … well … in a walk. (Early oddsmakers in Las Vegas have them as 10-point favourites against Notre Dame.)
Sorry, Irish Nation.
But fear not, football fans. The major bowl schedule is teeming with potential interesting matchups otherwise.
How 'bout a projected Fiesta Bowl of Oregon-Kansas State for a high-scoring, back-and-forth track meet?
Another projection sees longtime rivals Oklahoma-Texas A&M in a flashy Dallas-hosted Cotton Bowl affair.
The Rose Bowl could see Montee 'Wreckin' Ball try to knock down that staunch Stanford 'D'.
The Orange Bowl would likely see disrespected Florida State challenged by one of three Big East battlers in Rutgers, Louisville or Cincinnati.
And there's LSU or Florida, both with bigtime defences, pencilled in to play Clemson, with its high-octane offence, in a hotly contested Sugar Bowl.
Regardless, Notre Dame better not drop the ball Saturday night in SoCal. Or it'll likely mean another all-SEC national championship — and that would be true horror for Irish fans.
First & goal
The traditional USC-Notre Dame tilt is just one of five long-standing heated rivalries to help decide the national title picture this weekend. Gotta love it … While Alabama (10-1) should have no issues with Auburn (3-8) in the Iron Bowl, the others are tasty … There's the 'Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate' — rivalry nicknames is reason No. 54 why NCAA football rocks — which pits Georgia Tech (6-5) and No. 3 Georgia (10-1) against each other. Bulldogs better not be sleeping on the Ramblin' Wreck's triple-option spread offence — which has racked up an average of 48 points a game the last three weeks — or their BCS hopes will go bye-bye … No. 4 Florida (10-1) and No. 10 Florida State (10-1), with or without injured Jeff Driskel at QB for the Gators, should be a barnburner to decide FLA's BCS fate … And No. 5 Oregon (10-1) needs a lot of help to make the title game, beginning with an in-state win this weekend in the Civil War against hearty host No. 15 Oregon State (8-2) and a USC (7-4) upset of Notre Dame (11-0) without QB Matt Barkley manning the Trojan horse. According to Barkley's replacement, Max Wittek, one domino has already fallen, since he's guaranteed a USC victory.
Fourth & inches
Including the Gators-'Noles and GaTech-Dawgs tilts and No. 12 South Carolina at No. 11 Clemson, there are four ACC-SEC games on tap. I see a 2-2 split, which would make the ACC stand up a little taller … No. 18 Rutgers and No. 20 Louisville are fighting for the Big East BCS berth. With respective wins this weekend over Pitt and UConn, next Thursday's tilt between soon-to-be-Big-10-member Rutgers and Louisville will determine who gets that coveted conference spot in a BCS game … So does Jeff Tedford, former journeyman CFL QB and assistant coach, return to be a boss in three-down football with his tenure over at Cal? Hmmmm …
Rank (last week) Record
1. Notre Dame (3) 11-0
2. Alabama (4) 10-1
3. Georgia (5) 10-1
4. Florida (6) 10-1
5. Oregon (2) 10-1
6. Kansas State (1) 10-1
7. LSU (7) 9-2
8. Stanford (13) 9-2
9. Texas A&M (8) 9-2
10. Florida State (10) 10-1
11. Clemson (11) 10-1
12. South Carolina (9) 9-2
13. Oklahoma (12) 8-2
14. Nebraska (14) 9-2
15. Oregon State (16) 8-2
16. Texas (15) 8-2
17. UCLA (17) 9-2
18. Rutgers (22) 9-1
19. Michigan (21) 8-3
20. Louisville (19) 9-1
21. Oklahoma State (24) 7-3
22. Boise State (NR) 9-2
23. Kent State (NR) 10-1
24. Arizona (NR) 7-4
25. Washington (25) 7-4