Notre Dame Football: How Irish Can Break into BCS Championship Picture

William Smith@@BSmith102688Correspondent IOctober 15, 2012

Notre Dame proved its mettle with a win over Stanford Saturday, but needs to win some big upcoming games.
Notre Dame proved its mettle with a win over Stanford Saturday, but needs to win some big upcoming games.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Coming off a 20-13 overtime win over a tough Stanford team on Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish remain unbeaten at 6-0 and have defeated three ranked teams along the way.

But many people still question whether or not this team has a legitimate chance to win a national title.

The Irish still have a tough schedule ahead of them, but with their defense and ability to make enough plays on the offensive side of the ball to win games, Brian Kelly's bunch can make a push for a BCS Championship Game berth if they continue finding ways to win.

Notre Dame is No. 5 in the first BCS standings released Sunday, behind Alabama, Florida, Oregon, and Kansas State.

It looks like the Irish must win out if they want to have a shot at the Discover BCS National Championship Game in Miami on January 7, 2013. 

They must handle their business in the upcoming weeks. Notre Dame hosts BYU this week in what could be a trap game. The following week, they play a dangerous Oklahoma team in Norman. Oklahoma just put up 63 points in a 63-21 dismantling of a good Texas squad this past Saturday.

Finally, the Fighting Irish close with a showdown at USC, a team pegged as the preseason No. 1 before their title hopes took a major hit with a 21-14 loss at Stanford on September 15.

Even if Notre Dame defies the odds and wins out, they may need help from the teams above them to get into the mix.  

College football is full of unpredictability and it isn't unrealistic to think that the top dogs will suffer setbacks in the coming weeks.


Alabama and Florida

Ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the BCS Standings, these two teams are the ones to catch right now.

It is entirely possible the Crimson Tide could drop a game in the coming weeks. They play three ranked teams in a span of three weeks starting October 27 with Mississippi State, LSU and finally Texas A&M.

If they drop one of those guys, though, they could still be in the title hunt if they win the SEC title game. Would a one-loss Alabama team that wins the SEC Championship Game have the advantage over a no-loss Notre Dame team?

Meanwhile, the Gators still have three very difficult ranked opponents to face in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida State. 


Oregon and Kansas State

These two teams sit at No. 3 and No. 4 in the BCS Standings.

The Ducks still have three ranked opponents (USC, Stanford, Oregon State) on their schedule.

They will face a lot of pressure to get the job done in back-to-back weeks at home against the Cardinal and on the road against the Beavers.

Kansas State has done well to go unbeaten until this point, but they are unlikely to stay unbeaten as they face four ranked foes (West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas) in the final six weeks of the season.


Other Threats to Irish's Hopes

LSU, Oklahoma and USC each have one loss, and if any one of them was to run the table, they could be in the mix to play for the national championship.

Oregon State and Mississippi State are unbeaten, but unlikely to stay that way. Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati have unblemished record,s but would still struggle to get to the national championship because they will lack big wins against power conferences.


Take Care of Business

If the Irish win out and do what they need to do, there is a good chance they could play for all the marbles in January.  

Not only do the Irish have to beat the tough opponents they have on the remaining schedule, they must also come out with focus and take care of the ball against inferior opponents.

College football is full of upsets each week, so this could be the Fighting Irish's lucky year to capitalize on those and control its own destiny.