The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have played themselves into another place of uncertainty. By struggling mightily against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame looked nothing like one of the nation's elite.
The last thing teams need to be doing at this point in the season is sending mixed messages to pollsters. One week removed from a huge win in Norman over the Oklahoma Sooners, the Irish were nearly upset at home.
They deserved to lose the game in all honesty. Were it not for poor coaching and a blown field goal by Kevin Harper, the Irish would have their first loss.
We have to ask ourselves: How badly would Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and even Florida have beaten Pittsburgh at home?
I can't see the Panthers staying within three touchdowns of any of those teams.
If Notre Dame had beaten Pittsburgh by two touchdowns at home, it probably holds Oregon off in the BCS standings. At the very least, the gap between the two teams would be smaller.
As of now, the Irish need very strong performances in the final three games of the season.
Old nemesis Boston College awaits on Saturday, and worst of all, the Irish have to tangle with the Eagles on the road. BC is only 2-7 this season, but it will be hard not to think back to 2002 when it upended the Irish's run at a BCS title.
Notre Dame will come home to play Wake Forest on Nov. 17, and it will finish up in Los Angeles against the USC Trojans.
The Trojans have fallen out of any opportunity to play for a BCS title, but they will relish the chance to play spoiler. Notre Dame has to win the final three games, obviously, but it must make a statement in the two games leading to the clash with the Trojans.
It's the only way the Irish can gain some momentum and support to play for a BCS title.
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