Saturday, September 15, 8 pm Eastern, ABC
Without a doubt, the game with the biggest BCS impact this weekend will come when the No. 9 Spartans host the No. 18 Fighting Irish.
First, if Michigan State wins, you can expect a confidence boost in MSU's abilities.
Michigan State has 24 wins since the start of the 2009 season—more than any other Big Ten program—and is poised to become a new perennial power in the conference.
Add in losses by Michigan and Wisconsin already this season that highlight weaknesses in those programs, and Sparty may be unchallenged for the Big Ten this season.
A win against Notre Dame will only reinforce that theory.
And, however unlikely, we do have to mention that a blowout victory over Notre Dame could spark zealous Spartan fans to start talking about running the table. Does the BCS take an undefeated Big Ten team over a one loss team from the Big 12, ACC or Pac-12 for the big game in Miami?
Across the field, the Irish have been languishing at the bottom of the Top 25—if at all—for several years, and Brian Kelly was hired with the explicit intent of changing those (mis)fortunes.
It hasn't happened yet, to the glee of Irish-haters around the nation. But Notre Dame is still Notre Dame, and Brian Kelly is still Brian Kelly. That means the recruits are starting to pour in, and things should start turning around any day now.
Will that day be this Saturday?
Maybe, maybe not. But if it is, we all have to start asking ourselves one very important question: Can we put our preconceived notions behind us and rank Notre Dame appropriately after knocking off a Top 10 team?
Notre Dame has plenty of time to trip up this season, with Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma and USC yet to come. But there's a real chance Notre Dame could be 3-0 after this weekend and 6-0 in time for the initial BCS rankings.
With all of the possible BCS reshuffling that could occur with the results of just this one game, it's easy to see why Notre Dame at Michigan State tops our list of Week 3 games that will shape initial BCS projections.
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