The No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish got the short end of the stick among the three remaining undefeated teams in the latest edition of the BCS standings, and until Brian Kelly's team is able to change the perception of the pollsters, it will continue to be ranked behind the No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats and No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
The only way for Notre Dame to earn more votes in the Harris poll and USA Today Coaches poll would be to dominate the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and No. 18 USC Trojans on both sides of the ball in their final two regular-season games.
The computers already love the Fighting Irish, because margin of victory is no longer taken into account, and Notre Dame boasts victories over four ranked opponents, including an impressive 30-13 road win over the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners, so until the pollsters vote differently they will be left out of the national title picture.
Notre Dame No. 1 in the computers (4 of 6), No. 3 in the BCS. We've reached the part where the computers stop mattering.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 12, 2012
There is no denying that Notre Dame's defense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te'o, has been one of the nation's best for the entire 2012 campaign.
However, the Fighting Irish have struggled offensively against lesser opponents three of the last four weeks, while Oregon and Kansas State have blown out almost everyone on their respective schedules.
Notre Dame has come a long way offensively since it eked out a 20-17 victory over the lowly Purdue Boilermakers at home and even managed to score 41 points against the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes in Week 5.
Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish came up small on offensively against the BYU Cougars in a 17-14 win and only put up 21 points against a Boston College Eagles' defense that has given up more than 34 or more points on five different occasions this year.
Additionally, Notre Dame turned the ball over three times, only scored 20 points in regulation, allowed Ray Graham to rush for 172 yards and were bailed out by a missed 33-yard field-goal attempt in its triple-overtime win over the 4-6 Pittsburgh Panthers, who lost to the Youngstown State Penguins earlier this season.
Blowing out Wake Forest and USC will not change Notre Dame's computer rankings, but it might be enough to sway some of the human voters away from Kansas State and Oregon.
The Demon Deacons have given up 34 points or more in four of their five losses this season, so Everett Golson and Co. will have to put up similar numbers this weekend to win over some of the pollsters.
Notre Dame's regular-season finale against the Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum will be the pivotal game in the eyes of the voters, though.
The Trojans managed to expose Oregon's defense by racking up over 600 yards of total offense in a losing effort, but USC's defense looked porous against the Ducks and Arizona Wildcats in back-to-back games.
If the Fighting Irish are able to shut down Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and the rest of the Trojans on offense, in addition to piling up more than 30 points in a dominant victory over USC, then Notre Dame should be able to steal some votes from Oregon and Kansas State.
The pollsters have sent Notre Dame a clear message, so now it is up to the Fighting Irish to prove they deserve to be the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country over the next two weeks.
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