Notre Dame Football: Highlighting Upcoming Games with BCS Implications

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 22:  Members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense line up against the offense of the University of Southern California Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 22, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. USC defeated Notre Dame 31-17.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish could make a higher case for No. 5 in the BCS standings. They’ll leave no doubt if they can get through the rest of their schedule unscathed.

The Fighting Irish have traveled to Ireland, East Lansing and Chicago, pulling out wins in all three locales.

The traveling, though, won’t end anytime soon. Two trips are highlighted on Brian Kelly’s schedule: one to Norman, another to the Coliseum.

Also, coincidentally the Irish will get a taste of ACC schools with a visit from Wake Forest in South Bend and a trip to Boston College. These are both winnable games for the Irish where they can see how they match up with the conference, as they'll soon be playing the ACC much more frequently.

Which games will have an impact on Notre Dame’s BCS chances? A few big-time matchups await.

At Oklahoma (Oct. 27)

Notre Dame’s matchup with Oklahoma should see both teams at the peak of its powers.

The Sooners may not be undefeated, but they no longer have the weight of expectations on them after an early loss. Especially at home, that makes them a tough team for the Irish to beat.

Plus, the Sooners are the most explosive offense the Fighting Irish have seen to date.

While Stanford and Michigan State are ground-and-pound teams that Notre Dame’s front seven matches up with well, the Sooners have a quick-paced attack. The Irish defense will get tested like they have never seen.

Notre Dame should climb into the Top Three at minimum if it can pull off the road upset.

At Southern Cal (Nov. 24)

The Trojans were once the belle of the NCAA ball; they’ll be hard pressed to get a win against their Midwest rivals, as they might be in the hunt for a BCS bowl as well.

After they face Arizona, the Trojans don’t leave the state of California for a six-week period. Home living may give them the edge down the stretch to challenge for a BCS title-game bid like they were expected.

The Trojans offense can hurt teams on the ground or through the air, but the former has been more surprising. Tailback Silas Redd has been a madman running the ball to relieve Matt Barkley and their offensive line from getting beat by opposing defensive fronts.

This game will be another struggle to the finish. USC hasn’t run away from any quality teams to suggest anything else. If this rivalry wasn’t good enough, BCS accolades could be on the line.

Watch out, college football.