Notre Dame or Alabama: Which Team Should Thank Baylor and Stanford the Most?
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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are expected to be sitting atop the BCS standings for the first time in school history and earned their first No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll since 1988, while the Alabama Crimson Tide regained control of their destiny in the national championship race thanks to upset victories by the Stanford Cardinal and Baylor Bears on Saturday.
The new No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country should both be signing "Come Join the Band" to Stanford head coach David Shaw and sending hand-written thank you letters to Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin, Nick Florence and the rest of the Bears for creating BCS chaos with their victory over the Kansas State Wildcats.
Projected BCS standings (according to Brad Edwards): 1. Notre Dame, 2. Alabama, 3. Georgia, 4. Florida, 5. Kansas State— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 18, 2012
Brian Kelly's undefeated Notre Dame team should be thanking Baylor and Stanford more than anyone else right now, though.
Yes, even more than the Crimson Tide, who will likely be in the BCS national title game if they are able to dispatch the Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl next weekend and the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game on Dec. 1st.
If the Fighting Irish, Ducks and Wildcats would have all finished the 2012 regular season undefeated, the pollsters had all but determined that Notre Dame would be relegated to the Rose Bowl to take on the champion of the Big Ten Conference.
Instead, Notre Dame only needs a victory over the depleted USC Trojans—who may have lost star quarterback Matt Barkley for the rest of the year to a shoulder injury—to finish with a 12-0 record and start booking their plane tickets to Miami.
Who should be the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings?
Not only did Stanford's victory over the Ducks give Notre Dame an inside track to a shot at their first national championship in 14 years, it bolstered the value of the Fighting Irish's 20-13 overtime win over the Cardinal on Oct. 13th.
Notre Dame did not need any more help from the computer rankings, but even the Fighting Irish haters can't call the Stanford game anything besides a quality win over a nationally ranked opponent.
Meanwhile, no one would have complained outside of Tuscaloosa if two teams finished the season undefeated and Alabama had to accept an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Sure, the Crimson Tide may have more NFL talent on their roster than any other team in college football, but Alabama did not handle their business against the Texas A&M Aggies in Week 11, which means they would've had only themselves to blame for being left out of a third national title game in four seasons.
In fact, SEC commissioner Mike Slive should be thanking Stanford and Baylor as well for allowing Alabama and Georgia to ensure that the conference gets to play for a seventh consecutive AFCA National Championship trophy.
There is nothing more disappointing than proving all of the doubters wrong by running the table for an entire season only to be left out in the cold when it comes time to crown the best team in college football.
Thankfully, this is no longer the reality for the Fighting Irish.
Follow me on Twitter @ZachDirlam_SSN.
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