If the Oregon Ducks win out, a BCS National Championship berth must be in their future.
Chip Kelly's team is currently No. 2 in the BCS rankings, according to ESPN, following Alabama's shocking loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. Sandwiched between Kansas State and Notre Dame, the Ducks are favored by the pollsters but lack the Fighting Irish's clout within the BCS computers.
Either way, the choice should be clear. If Oregon wins out, it must be in. Throw its prolific offense out the window. Toss out its banged up, porous defense. It's about wins, and the Ducks have quality victories.
This isn't a debate between Kansas State and Oregon. The Wildcats have earned their path, dominating team after team on a week-by-week basis.
It's Notre Dame that should pale in comparison to the Ducks. The Fighting Irish have been an amazing story this season, winning countless games because of their unquenchable thirst for victory, but narrowly defeating Pittsburgh and looking so-so against Boston College shouldn't do much for you.
Notre Dame will have wins over Oklahoma, Stanford and Southern California to hang its hat on if they finish the season undefeated. Oregon will have defeated Stanford, USC (maybe twice), Oregon State and at least one more quality win to its credit.
Maybe it's just me, but Notre Dame's tough schedule has paled as the year has gone along. Michigan State is no longer a big win. Michigan barely fits the bill, as does Brigham Young. None of those are any bigger than the likes of Arizona or Arizona State, both of which Oregon has defeated.
Obviously, a loss for either team settles this conversation. If they both lose, it's very likely that the SEC champion would leapfrog them in the BCS standings anyway.
A win is always a win, but Notre Dame's poor performance against Pittsburgh, if it comes down to it, should make a difference. The Panthers aren't a very good team and really should have knocked the Irish off in South Bend.
There's definitely something to say for a team that understands how to win tight games, but then you have the Ducks. Despite a faulty defense, Oregon has won by 10-plus points in every game this season. Scoring the way that they do lends them a supreme advantage, and no team has come close to figuring them out.
Notre Dame's run has been impressive, but the BCS is going to leave someone on the outside looking in. An undefeated Ducks team is undeniable and must earn the ultimate bowl berth.