Notre Dame Football: Losses by K-State and Oregron Put Irish on Road to Miami

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIINovember 18, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium on November 17, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 38-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The talk around college football was that Notre Dame would need to win out and have one of the other undefeated teams lose. In Week 12, both Oregon and Kansas State went down, sending the Irish straight to the national championship game in Miami if they win at USC next week.

Earlier in the day on Saturday Notre Dame took care of its business, blowing out Wake Forest 38-0. The Irish have a history of playing poorly against lesser competition this year—think Purdue and Pittsburgh—but that didn't happen in Week 12.

Even with the win, Notre Dame knew it would still need help to move up in the rankings.

Kansas State was the first team to help Notre Dame. The Wildcats crumbled under the pressure of being ranked No. 1 in the BCS for the first time in school history. The Baylor Bears demolished K-State 52-24 and intercepted Heisman Trophy hopeful Collin Kline three times.

A resounding roar could be heard coming from South Bend as soon as that game went final. Little did Irish fans know that they would be cheering once again later in the evening.

The Oregon Ducks were on the fast track to Miami, featuring a prolific offense and a fun-to-watch, fast-paced style. That offense was shut down on Saturday night by the Stanford Cardinal. The Ducks were held to just 14 points and lost 17-14 in overtime.

Notre Dame will now find themselves ranked No. 1 in the BCS for the first time. The road ahead for the Irish is now very clear: beat the Trojans and play in the BCS championship.

While beating USC is never an easy task, especially in the Coliseum, the Trojans are down this year and things are set up nicely for the Irish to leave LA with a victory. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley left the Trojans' Week 12 game against UCLA with a shoulder injury and is in danger of missing time.

Unless there is an upset, Notre Dame is headed to South Florida in January to look for it's first national championship since 1988.