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Why It's Great for College Football That Notre Dame Is No. 1 in the BCS

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hugs Manti T'eo #5 during a game 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
Jeff BellCorrespondent INovember 18, 2012

For the first time in the BCS era, Notre Dame is ranked No. 1 in college football.

This comes on the heels of losses by both Kansas State and Oregon, which allowed the Fighting Irish to nab the top spot.

As much as it may hurt to hear it, this development is great for college football.

For starters, the Irish are attention grabbers. Sometimes it's due to great play on the football field, and other times, they're the subject of ridicule.

But for better or worse, people love to talk about Notre Dame. With it sitting atop the BCS standings, the college football world is buzzing.

All of a sudden, a potential Notre Dame-Alabama title game exists. You may hate the idea if you're outside of SEC country, but it would undoubtedly draw some major ratings.

Next week's USC-Notre Dame game all of a sudden takes on national importance. The rivalry will play arguably its biggest game since 2005, otherwise known as the "Bush push."

If they can get past the Trojans, they'll play for a title on January 7. Somewhere, Lou Holtz has a grin the size of South Bend.

The return of Notre Dame also proves to former powers that an ascension to previous glory is possible.

Miami has been down for a while, but this has to provide hope that it can climb the mountain once more.

What about Tennessee? Ol' Rocky Top is struggling, but it still has the fanbase and tradition that allows for success.

Some scoff at the idea of tradition. The Oregon Ducks are the opposite of everything tradition stands for.

But having a traditional powerhouse become relevant is good for everybody because it puts a spotlight on college football. The excitement for the game hasn't dwindled, but people don't realize how much hype surrounds each weekend now that Notre Dame is back.

However, this isn't about new school vs. tradition. It's about a team with a large national following. It's about a team that has played Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Navy and Pittsburgh. You can add USC after next Saturday. Half of the teams on Notre Dame's schedule consider the Irish to be one of their biggest rivals.

When teams like Kansas State or Oregon occupy the top spot in the BCS, it's not a bad thing for college football. People seem genuinely interested in whether or not Kansas State can buck its history and win a title. And the Ducks are practically one of the nation's elite with their high-powered offense and three straight BCS appearances.

But there's something different about Notre Dame.

You have their hoards of fans all over the country. You also have the millions of people that love to hate them. Even if people don't want to see the Irish in the title game, they'll tune in and root against them.

Finally, you don't have to like Notre Dame. But you don't have a soul if you can't appreciate several aspects of the 2012 team.

Start with Manti Te'o, the heart and soul of the entire university and a young man with high character. How about freshman quarterback Everett Golson? His mistakes have been on display all season long and yet he finds a way to win. His game has grown quite a bit in the process.

What about their overall mental toughness? Notre Dame has been involved in several games that it  shouldn't have won. But somehow, whether by a great play from the defense or crucial score from the offense, it's found a way.

Who knows if this team can beat Alabama or Georgia. Or Florida. Or even Oregon. But with a win next Saturday, we'll get to find out.

And love it or hate it, you'll watch because you're just as curious as everybody else. And that's a good thing for the game of college football.

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