If Notre Dame finishes its regular season slate unblemished, it should be in the BCS national championship game. No question about it.
Upon looking at the historical landscape of college football, there's no other team more relevant than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, they've struggled since the turn of the millennium, and haven't been able to assert themselves as a serious national title contender in recent years.
That all changed when Brian Kelly bolted from Cincinnati. Sure, the success didn't come quickly for Kelly and his team. Kelly's Irish lost 10 games combined in his first two seasons, but have yet to drop a single contest in 2012.
Defense has been the main difference in Kelly's Notre Dame teams.
There's no doubt that Notre Dame boasts the nation's best defense at this point, and it won't be tested heavily until the season's final game when they face USC on the road in Los Angeles.
For a defense to be elite, it needs to have an obvious hero. That hero is none other than Manti Te'o.
Te'o is having such a dominating season that he's climbed to second overall in CBS Sports' Heisman Trophy rankings. But it was his performance this weekend against Oklahoma that gave him the signature moment each Heisman winner inevitably gets.
He finished with 11 tackles, a sack and an interception that proved to be the difference in a fourth quarter that was all Irish. Te'o has 78 tackles on the season to go along with five interceptions.
Notre Dame's strength of schedule is the main component for its argument. The Fighting Irish have beaten two top-10 teams on the road this season, something that very few teams can boast in any season. Renowned college football writer Phil Steele on FB Schedules rated Notre Dame's schedule as the toughest in the nation this season.
Currently, Notre Dame's biggest competition for the BCS title game is Kansas State. The Wildcats can match the Irish with a road win against Oklahoma, but their next-best win is at home against a West Virginia team that isn't nearly as good as we all expected.
K-State's defense isn't bad, but it is nowhere near Notre Dame's elite level of holding opponents to less than 10 points per game.
Oregon may also go undefeated and has that video-game-style offense, but its defense won't be able to hang with the nation's best teams.
We all know that defense wins championships. Shouldn't defense win admittance into championship games?
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