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Notre Dame Football: How Loss to USC Would Blow Up BCS Standings

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 06:  Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish calls defensive signals against the Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field on October 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Notre Dame defeated Miami 41-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jeff BellCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2016

The Notre Dame football team has to be feeling pretty good today.

They are the only team in the country that is both bowl-eligible and undefeated, and they are ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings.

All that stands in the way between the Fighting Irish and a trip to Miami on Jan. 7th is a game against the USC Trojans.

That game could be easier if USC is without the services of Matt Barkley, who may have a separated shoulder, according to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.

But a trip to to the LA Coliseum is never easy, and the Trojans would love nothing more than to end Notre Dame's dream season.

The BCS standings have experienced an onslaught of chaos over the past few weeks. Should the Irish lose, it could become one of the wildest finishes to a season in college football history.

Let's assume Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia beats Georgia Tech. In that scenario, one of the Top 2 spots will be occupied by the winner of the SEC championship game.

But the other spot would be up for grabs, and the Oregon Ducks, Florida Gators, Kansas State Wildcats and Florida State Seminoles would all be fighting for it.

Florida and Florida State play next weekend. A win by the Gators would put them in prime position to take the second spot on the BCS, despite not playing in the SEC title game.

If the Seminoles win, their computer ranking will get a major boost, proving to the nation that their only loss of the season, a 17-16 defeat at NC State, was a fluke.

Then there's Kansas State and Oregon, previously the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country.

Kansas State ends the season by hosting Texas in two weeks. A win would be nice, but they might not own a resume that stacks up with the other one-loss contenders. Even with Florida's poor performances in recent weeks, it's hard to argue a one-loss Wildcats team over the one-loss Gators.

The Ducks play at Oregon State, and a win would secure an at-large birth at the very least. But they may need the Pac-12 championship game to boost their computer rankings, and they won't play in that game unless UCLA beats Stanford on Saturday.

Make sense so far?

The odds in this scenario are that we'll end the season with three one-loss teams vying for a spot behind Alabama or Georgia in the Top 2: Florida/Florida State, Oregon and Kansas State.

Florida would hold the upper hand if it were to win, while Oregon would have an edge should Florida State win. The Wildcats will be rooting for the Seminoles and Beavers this weekend, and a win by both would put them in good position to jump into the Top 2.

The two-loss teams are left out because, well, they have two losses. That takes Stanford, LSU and Texas A&M out of contention. No one would argue those teams aren't elite, but you can't justify putting a team with an extra loss ahead of others.

Of course, all of this is under the assumption that Notre Dame will lose, which is a risky assumption to make. They've had the most consistent defense all season, and the offense has been improving.

Nothing that USC has done in recent weeks suggests it can upset the Fighting Irish. They have the most dangerous offense Notre Dame will face all season, but that could be hindered if Matt Barkley is out.

Still, as the Ducks and Wildcats learned this weekend, crazy things can happen in November. It's fair to say that more than a few eyes will be turned toward Los Angeles next weekend, where the weight of the BCS rests on Notre Dame and USC.

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