Notre Dame Football: What Must Happen for Fighting Irish to Earn BCS Title Bid

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2012

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 27:   Cheerleaders and Mascot of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate after a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Norman, Oklahoma.  The Fighting Irish defeated the Sooners 30-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Doubters, haters, naysayers and the like can all say whatever they want about the No. 4 team in the nation, the 9-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

But they keep winning, and they have positioned themselves to remain a part of the discussion surrounding the BCS National Championship Game.

It won't be easy for the Fighting Irish to get there, and their biggest problem, as we'll see, isn't so much what they can control. It's what they have no control over that could cost Manti Te'o and the rest of his teammates a chance to do what no Notre Dame football team has done since 1988.

Win it all.

Here's what needs to happen for the Irish to make their dreams a reality. 

Run The Table

Obviously, a loss in any of their three remaining games will all but eliminate the Fighting Irish from contention, especially given that only one of their remaining opponents is a ranked team.

Boston College (2-7) is up first on Nov. 10, and it is a team that has given Notre Dame fits in the past, including last year when the Irish held on for a 16-14 victory at home. But this year's Golden Eagles have been terrible, and they shouldn't pose any real threat to Notre Dame.

The same goes for Wake Forest (5-4), a team that the Irish have only faced once before, beating them 24-17 in North Carolina last season. This year, the Demon Deacons travel to Notre Dame Stadium, and like Boston College, they don't figure to be much of a challenge for the Irish.

We can't say the same about the USC Trojans (6-3), however, who host Notre Dame on Nov. 24 in the final regular-season game for both squads. 

The Fighting Irish have only beaten the Trojans once in their past 10 meetings, a 20-16 victory in 2010. Ranked 19th in the BCS and 21st in the AP, the Trojans have the ability to ruin Notre Dame's national title dreams. 

But should Notre Dame take care of business against its remaining opponents and finish the season a perfect 12-0, it will have done all that it could to prove it is worthy of playing for a national championship. 

Two Teams Ahead of Them in BCS Standings Must Fall

Three teams sit ahead of the Fighting Irish in the BCS standings: No. 1 Alabama (9-0), No. 2 Kansas State (9-0) and No. 3 Oregon (9-0).

While all three have ranked opponents left to play, only Kansas State doesn't have to play in a conference championship game, eliminating one more potential pitfall.

With Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein expected to be under center for their next game against TCU, according to head coach Bill Snyder (via ESPN), the Wildcats figure to have the best chance of the three to remain unbeaten.

That leaves Alabama and Oregon as the two teams which need to fall, and it sure doesn't look like Alabama can be beaten, especially after No. 9 LSU wasn't able to pull off the win after a valiant effort.

Oregon, while its offense is explosive, has a pretty mediocre defense. With games left against California, No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State before facing either No. 18 UCLA or No. 19 USC in the Pac-12 championship game, the Ducks have the best shot of the three to fall.

But one team losing won't be enough for the Irish to jump up to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings

They need two, and that's going to be the major obstacle in their way.


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