BCS Rankings: Examining Who Deserves No. 2 Spot in Latest Poll

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2012

Manti Te'o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish deserve the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings.
Manti Te'o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish deserve the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The battle for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings is paralyzingly close, but only one team deserves the No. 2 spot in the latest poll: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

Unfortunately for the Brian Kelly, his squad checks in one spot below the coveted No. 2 position behind Kansas State.

The Wildcats' rise to the top has been remarkable considering they were ranked No. 22 in the AP Preseason Poll. 

Thanks to Heisman hopeful Collin Klein, the Wildcats are in the enviable position of being the second-best team in the country, according to the BCS rankings. 

However, does that mean they deserve to be ahead of Notre Dame? Absolutely not. 

There's no disparaging what Klein has been able to do in 2012, as the dangerous signal-caller is a viable Heisman Trophy candidate. 

Midway through his senior season, the 6'5", 226-pound quarterback has been an offensive juggernaut, completing 70.9 percent of his passes for 1,630 yards and a 12:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

He's also rushed for 634 yards and an astounding 16 touchdowns, entering himself into Tim Tebow and Cam Newton territory as one of college football's greatest dual-threat machines.  

While the Wildcats have exploded for 44.4 points per game and managed to surrender just 17.1 per game—good for 13th in the nation—they haven't exactly faced an onslaught of opponents. 

Kansas State's best wins are against then-No. 6 Oklahoma (24-19), then-No. 13 West Virginia (55-14) and Saturday's 55-24 stomping of No. 14 Texas Tech. 

However, Oklahoma was exposed against Notre Dame and blew out Texas Tech, 41-20, earlier this month.

And for West Virginia? Well, let's just say the Geno Smith hype train has slowed to a halt since his magnificent start.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame has managed to get to 8-0 largely because of its dominant defense.

Led by another Heisman candidate—and a defensive one at that—in Manti Te'o, the Fighting Irish boast the nation's second-best scoring defense, surrendering a paltry 9.9 points per game. 

Te'o has keyed a physical unit that limited Michigan State star Le'Veon Bell to just 71 yards, picked off Denard Robinson four times and kept him out of the end zone and held Oklahoma to a 0.6-yard rushing average on Saturday. 

Notre Dame's ability to shut down opposing offenses has been invaluable since Brian Kelly has turned the reigns over to sophomore Everett Golson. 

Golson hasn't exactly made big plays, but he's mostly avoided costly mistakes during the Fighting Irish's undefeated run. 

The way Te'o and Co. made senior Landry Jones and Oklahoma's offense look on Saturday proved they're the real deal. 

Oregon certainly can make a case for the No. 2 spot due to its one-of-a-kind offense, but remember what happened the last time they played for a national championship? 

Playing against an Auburn defense that's not even in the same ballpark as Alabama's or Notre Dame's, Oregon managed just 19 points and turned the ball over twice.

Chip Kelly has masterminded the quick-pace attack, and Oregon has managed to also go undefeated, but until they beat legitimate Top-15 teams, there's no way they earn the No. 2 spot in the rankings. 

Notre Dame may not score points at the rapid rate that Kansas State or Oregon do, but they win with the same formula as No. 1 Alabama: play great defense and run the ball. 

If that dominant style has earned Alabama the top spot, then Notre Dame deserves to be right behind Nick Saban's squad in the BCS rankings.