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While Notre Dame has bitterly battled its way into the BCS Top Five, it has been a subplot to many college football fans throughout the year.
There is a certain skeptical cloud around the Irish somewhat akin to the boy who cried wolf. The Irish faithful have known this, and many fans wish that the media would just stop calling them "back" prematurely so they can be left alone during the drought that all championship-quality teams endure at some point in time.
Well, that cloud is gone.
The Irish are back.
Yes, the Fighting Irish have made a perfect season out of a schedule that has turned out to be easier than originally expected. However, that schedule is still one of the hardest in the country.
Notre Dame has fought through Michigan State, Michigan, Miami (FL), Stanford and the BYU Cougars in the last six weeks (with a bye between Michigan and Miami).
Oklahoma hosts the Irish in Week 9, and this game is huge.
It's a battle between two BCS Top 10 teams, and it will be brutal: the Irish front seven vs. Landry Jones and the Oklahoma offense that has only lost one game so far.
Maybe the Irish haven't won with flashy offensive style, but they have done what few other teams have been able to do: win without exception. There's little reason to believe that they can't win this one, too.
Yes, it will be tough, but Kansas State has already shown us that Oklahoma is not invincible at home. With a win over Oklahoma, Notre Dame can become the third team in three weeks to leap over the Oregon Ducks.
Subplot: Don't count Manti Te'o out of the Heisman race either. With a huge showing against Landry Jones that includes a couple of picks, he could at least win a trip to New York in December.