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Notre Dame kicks its way to the BCS national championship

Notre Dame v USC Getty Images

Probably. But only because we’re still technically required to include that word.

The newest official BCS standings come out tomorrow evening, and the top-ranked Irish do not play next week. Still, it’s impossible to think that Notre Dame won’t be No. 1 when the final BCS rankings come out early next month. Why? Because top-ranked Notre Dame did what it was asked to do: win every game on its 2012 schedule, including Saturday night’s 22-13 victory over rival USC.

Running back Theo Riddick was the game’s MVP with 146 yards and a touchdown. When the Irish needed yards, Brian Kelly went to Riddick. When the Irish needed touchdowns, Kelly… did not go to Riddick. At least not on a drive that could have officially iced the game.  Facing a 1st-and-goal at the USC 9-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, Kelly elected to go to an empty set and put the ball in quarterback Everett Golson‘s hands after Riddick and Cierre Wood had rushed for 47 combined yards on just four plays earlier.

And, like four other times previously, the Irish had to settle for a Kyle Brindza field goal.

But that’s been Notre Dame’s formula all year — although not always on purpose. The Irish offense has shown big-play ability at times this season, but tying it all together for an entire game, let alone an entire season, has been a chore for the offensive-minded Kelly. So Notre Dame has relied on its defense. At no time was that more necessary than USC’s second-to-last offensive possession. Trojans backup quarterback Max Wittek finally connected with Marqise Lee (after trying all game) for a 53-yard gain down to the Notre Dame 2-yard line. The pass was perfectly defended; it was simply a better pitch and catch by Wittek and Lee. But then, Notre Dame’s defense bowed up and held the Trojans on a goal line stand when Wittek’s play-action pass went through the hands of fullback Soma Vainuku.

Why Lane Kiffin, still needing two scores to win, didn’t opt for the field goal is perplexing. Then again, much of why the Trojans, the preseason No. 1 team, sit unranked at 7-5 is difficult to comprehend. Will Kiffin lose his job because Pat Haden is racking his brain for answers? That too is hard to tell.

Likewise, you’d be hard-pressed to find many who had the foresight to predict that Notre Dame would be in this position three months ago. The Irish became the first team to go from unranked in the preseason AP poll to reaching BCS championship game in the same season.

Not that there haven’t been doubters along the way. When college football was still working with three to four undefeated teams, it was Notre Dame — not Alabama, Kansas State or Oregon — expected to be on the outside looking in once the final BCS standings were revealed. But, because college football is a tricky siren luring all us sailors to our inevitable and often gruesome demise, it was only Notre Dame that evaded the 2012 season unscathed.

It wasn’t sexy, and like all teams, Notre Dame needed some good fortune along the way. But this team got the job done when it mattered.

For that, no matter how you think the Irish stack up against other competition, Notre Dame has rightfully earned a spot in the BCS championship game. Notre Dame will play the champion of the SEC, winners of six straight national titles, too. What better way to prove yourself than to knock off the champs?

Remember the annoying “S-E-C!” chants raining down from inside JerryWorld when Alabama defeated Michigan at the beginning of the season? Notre Dame — hated Notre Dame, for all the preferential treatment it receives in college athletics — has the opportunity to silence them.

Wait for it: Notre Dame might actually be the lesser of the two evils here, especially if its championship opponent is Alabama. We’ll give you a minute to keep your head from exploding.

The ratings of an Alabama-Notre Dame BCS championship would be through the roof. Viewers by the masses would tune in for support, hate, curiosity and a stew of other (and possibly subconscious) reasons. Why? Because love ’em or hate ’em, Notre Dame matters, and its success (or failure) is going to be magnified.

But for now — finally — the Irish have the product on the field to back it up.

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61 Responses to “Notre Dame kicks its way to the BCS national championship”
  1. tuckfexas says: Nov 25, 2012 12:31 AM

    ND matters for the 1st time in 25 years. Big deal.

  2. badgerbuck says: Nov 25, 2012 12:33 AM

    Can you here the NCAA, ca Ching ,ca Ching

  3. barbeaux says: Nov 25, 2012 12:33 AM

    I’m assuming Alabama makes it……I pity any team that gives Nick Saban a month to prep against them.

  4. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:40 AM

    Yup. Big deal. I bet we don’t hear another word about Notre Dame the rest of the college football season. Wait, what’s that? Sportcenter just said their name every other frickin word. Aw, big deal.

  5. Ben Kercheval says: Nov 25, 2012 12:42 AM

    “ND matters for the 1st time in 25 years. Big deal.”

    Proved my point in the first comment.

  6. kiopta1 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:42 AM

    Good luck in your hater bowls.

  7. sharksfan754 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:45 AM

    It’s a damn shame. It’s gonna be a blowout

  8. loadofwashmother says: Nov 25, 2012 12:52 AM

    Hater gonna hate keep on hating ! Thanks

  9. davebrownspiral says: Nov 25, 2012 12:52 AM

    The only upside to this is when Alabama exposes Notre Dame for the fraud that they are in front of a national TV audience…44-10..Bama…God…Notre Dame made me root for Saban…I need to take a shower.

  10. cosanostra71 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:54 AM

    This game was so painful to watch.. So many what ifs as a Trojan fan that made it even worse… I certainly hope there are changes as a 7-5 season is not acceptable period.. Much less when you start out as preseason #1.. I do hope Alabama or Georgia wipes Notre Dame though.. as much as I dislike the SEC, I dislike Notre Dame more

  11. txnative61 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:55 AM

    On the bright side, it could have been Notre Dame vs Ohio State.

  12. atlantajimbob says: Nov 25, 2012 12:57 AM

    ND doesn’t “blow out” anyone. They only need to win. And that’s what they did better than any other team. We’ll be gentle and make you think you can win.

  13. uscatjerseyshore says: Nov 25, 2012 12:58 AM

    The only degree of solice that can be taken is the outcome of this game will finally shut up all the Duck fans who had already bought their tickets to Miami. Your PAC-12 title run ended at three featherheads. Counter reset to zero.

  14. possiblecabbage says: Nov 25, 2012 1:00 AM

    I certainly am no fan of the SEC, but I’ll give up watching college football entirely before I cheer for Notre Dame to win a football game, let alone a championship.

  15. ttalarico says: Nov 25, 2012 1:06 AM

    Ok haters, let us ND fans have it. We can take it. We’ve taken it for 12 straight games now and we’re 12-0! Tell us how Alabama is going to kill us. I believe everyone said that when we played Stanford, Oklahoma, and USC to just mention a few. Our defense just shuts down whatever team we play. So bring on Alabama! We’ll shut them down too!

    Go Irish!!

    PS. I really enjoy annoying ND haters!

  16. irishking says: Nov 25, 2012 1:08 AM

    Man, the ND haters are so passionate. Amazing!

  17. goobzilla says: Nov 25, 2012 1:13 AM

    Kiffin is a lousy coach! Congrats to the Irish.

  18. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 1:22 AM

    Wait? An SC fan with “what if’s?” um ND could have scored TD’s instead of fg’s. What if you got DEMOLISHED.

  19. atlantajimbob says: Nov 25, 2012 1:25 AM

    Looking forward to ND improving their record over Alabama to 6-1. Oops, sorry, I forgot Alabama has a loss and it could be UGA!! My only concern is that Al and UGA have 44 days to prepare while ND student athletes will actually have to live in dorms, go to class, and take finals. Otherwise they don’t graduate. Oh, that’s right-they graduate 99% and get NO preferential treatment. And still go 12-0? I don’t get it. Oh yeah, I do. It’s their culture!

  20. smcgaels1997 says: Nov 25, 2012 1:27 AM

    A blow out?? Seriously?? Typical SEC honk

  21. billmead1976 says: Nov 25, 2012 1:33 AM

    Just don’t let them wear those lousy hideous green jerseys.

  22. getsome99 says: Nov 25, 2012 1:36 AM

    Undefeated against 5 of 6 BCS conferences this year. Up next: the SEC. Go Irish!!!

  23. domerhomer says: Nov 25, 2012 1:58 AM

    Looking forward to the natty!! Shuting up haters and beating the SEC!! Go Irish

  24. kozbee says: Nov 25, 2012 2:03 AM

    ND did play a fairly good game but in mho you better bring more to the BCS.ND thinks their lines are big lol wait till they line up with the Tide.Roll Tide..
    SEC Rules.
    Bama by 17 points.

  25. v2the4 says: Nov 25, 2012 2:04 AM

    our worst nightmare(s) just came true……this will suck so bad…a bunch of lucky mofo’s from south bend vs a bunch of bandwagon sucks from states that border the gulf of mexico

  26. normtide says: Nov 25, 2012 2:16 AM

    ND fans- if you have been true fans for the last 25 years, through the tough times, you deserve to enjoy this. Talk loud, be proud. Tbh, I like how this team plays, gritty and tough. Will be a good match up vs the SEC. I would caution against counting the title game win just yet, Bama and Georgia are not chumps. But if you win, you will have earned a crystal trophy, over an SEC team. That is something all the other leagues have longed to do, and they all have failed. But yes, you deserve to throw it back at all the people who have been dishing it out to you for years now. Hope to see ya soon.

  27. irishdodger says: Nov 25, 2012 2:39 AM

    From a buddy of mine …

    For the SEC haters I’m apparently friends with:

    Florida has beat 6 FBS teams with winning record. 2 were Bowling Green and LaLafayette. They needed blocked punt TD to beat LaLafayette. Best SEC resume.

    LSU beat 5 FBS teams with winning record. 1 was N.Texas

    Alabama beat 4 FBS teams with winning record. 1 was W.Kentucky

    Ta&m beat 3 FBS teams with winning record. 1 was LaTech

    S. Carolina has beat 3 FBS teams with winning record. 1 was Eastern Carolina

    UGA has beat 2 FBS teams with winning record.

    ND beat 7 FBS teams with winning record and 2 6-6 teams. Case closed.

  28. techvet says: Nov 25, 2012 2:54 AM

    UGA didn’t have to play LSU, ‘Bama, or A&M.

    Go Irish!

  29. truefootballinsight says: Nov 25, 2012 3:09 AM

    @irishdoger, yes Nd has a tough schedule, especially considering away games, but it’s much harder to play top 10teams in consecutive weeks than to play 6-7 good teams. Sorry but Nd never had to deal with a week of studying Sam Montgomery, minter, and mingo, only to go home and prepare for Clowney, lattimore and their other DE. Then go in the road to face UGA’s monster NFL talent. Don’t get me wrong though, ND has a nasty TE and RB. Still though, I see bama taking it away because football karma pays back the Stanford TD and the Pitt PI call on 4th down.

  30. countryrunner8 says: Nov 25, 2012 4:15 AM

    Notre Dame doesn’t even deserve to be in the NC game. They lost to Stanford. The refs blew the call so badly.

  31. mungman69 says: Nov 25, 2012 4:23 AM

    If you think that ANY college football players are true students you are mistaken. Between practices, travel and games there just isn’t time to do 100% studying.
    Bama vs. Notre Dame? No good guys here.

  32. hercstar says: Nov 25, 2012 4:25 AM

    LOL and here come the officiating trolls and the “our 2 winners are better than your whole schedule” clowns. OU has lost 4 times at home in the Bob Stoops Era, but that doesn’t compare to going to South Carolina???? HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What happens if Notre Dame beats one of these SEC teams? Are you haters’ heads gonna pop off? I had one reason to pull for the Irish if Nick the lying sack Saban’s Tide made the game but now I’m gonna root for ’em simply because I have never seen such retarded fanboy hatred before in my life. Spectacular.

  33. alligatorsnapper says: Nov 25, 2012 5:43 AM

    Notre Dame won. Lame Kiffen gave the win to Notre Dame. With about 9:29 remaining in the game, USC was poised to score a touchdown. A great play was called, their rookie QB was on target, a great call, a pass to his receiver all alone in the right flat, completion…touchdown! Wait, wait…Lame Kiffen called a timeout, nullifying the TD, so he could then talk with the QB and rattle him a little and the next play and the drive did not result in a touchdown.

    End of game, USC QB is connecting on a drive down to the goal line. Two passes toward the corner of the end zone result in passing interference, 1st down on the 1 yard line. Another pass into the corner of the end zone will be a TD or another passing interference call, what does Lame Kiffen do? Run the ball, ND has the line boxed, run the ball again, have the QB try a QB sneak. Lame plays by Lame Kiffen. USC deserves better than that.

    Notre Dame may have not needed much help to beat USC but Lame Kiffen gave it them. A sad commentary on the whole season for USC. Lame Kiffen. USC fans could point to various mistakes made during the game, but the most consistent mistake was made at the crucial time by the USC Coach Lame Kiffen. I never thought I would say this, but I feel bad for USC fans. You need to get a real coach.

    Pat Haden needs to watch the final 10 minutes of the game on DVD several times to see what we all saw again and again. Let it sink in. Lame Kiffen has to go for USC to have a chance to have its talent take them to greater heights.

  34. gamustangdude says: Nov 25, 2012 6:30 AM

    techvet says:
    Nov 25, 2012 2:54 AM
    UGA didn’t have to play LSU, ‘Bama, or A&M.


    Not sure why this comment was written, however, neither did ND.

    Yes, the SEC sucks, until you have to play us. Ask any Oregon Fan, Michigan Fan, WV fan, and as of this weekend GT, FSU, and Clemson. Yes the SEC teams do have teams that consitently don’t do as well, there are bottom feeders in everyconferce, (insert your ULM, Auburn, Kentucky, Tenn Mizzous, Jacksonville State, FCS, losing FBS, blah blah blah jokes)but the teams at the top (Bama, UGA, UF, LSU, USC, A&M) are 6 of the most dangerous teams in the country. Not a singles other conference can boast that type of resume…with a straight face. Hate the SEC for it’s “easy” schedule, that’s cool. Everyone laughs untill the games starts, then reality sets in.

  35. gamustangdude says: Nov 25, 2012 6:48 AM

    I love how people use irrelevant facts to justify a team being better than another team. “You played 6 FBS losing teams, I played 3. Since I played 7 with winning records therefore I’m better than you!!!” OR “I’m in X-conference and I play 5-6 hard teams a year consistently, therefore I’m better than you.”

    The reality is, none of that matters it just makes for good “debates” I guess. All that matters is when that whistle blows, who has the most points. ND has dones an outstanding job of doing what it needs to do to when games. No matter how you want to troubleshoot their schedule, refree calls, blah blah blah, they did what they needed to do. Do I think they’ll win the BCS national championship game, no I don’t, I don’t think they have the offense to beat either a UGA or Bama defense. but I’m just a random guy on the interweb making an opinion.

    The SEC takes on a guantlent that many, not all but many, FBS teams don’t. Some SEC teams have weaker schedules due to teams underperforming this year, however me as a UGA fan have no control over how good Mizzou, Tenn, Kentucky are. I wish UGA could play Bama, LSU every year, but UGA is not in the SEC West and the schedules don’t work out that way. Beat the teams on your schedule and you make your point, don’t beat the teams and you play the waiting game. Everything else is opinions not fact. Rant complete

  36. gamustangdude says: Nov 25, 2012 6:52 AM

    sorry, meant win games. (when games? / dones?… really? fml i suck

  37. tg1896 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:08 AM

    Blah blah blah blah.

    You are what your record says you are.

  38. bigbuckeye76 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:21 AM

    ND v OSU would have been a great NC game….ND v Bama……ouch.

    Not sure how anyone can say ND doesn’t deserve to be there….they are undefeated.

    In 2002 OSU also played in close games, but the Big 1o was also the best conference in football ( won all their bowl games but 1) it remains to be seen how NDs opponents do. However, we know their B1G opponents are terrible, USC is pretty bad, OU is looking VERY ordinary….Stanford might be their best win and they got screwed in that game.

    I think if Bama makes it…it will be a rout.

  39. graymalkin26 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:22 AM

    GO IRISH!!! Kiss my ass haters, I’m Irish!!!

  40. graymalkin26 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:24 AM

    Anyone that likes Bama and Saban is a gayon.

  41. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:45 AM

    So people want to say ND DIDN’T stop Stanford at the goalline (which they did. Whistle blew. Game over). Notre Dame won by SEVEN. Stanford didn’t WIN if they call it a TD. These trolls didn’t even watch the game.

  42. chitown12 says: Nov 25, 2012 8:58 AM

    Congrats ND…you are what your record says you are – undefeated and #1.

    Despite the multiple brain farts that Kelly had. I can’t believe he went empty backfield on the last drive…it doesn’t take e genius to know you “ride the horse that got you there (Riddick)” ….and then to not know his kicker wanted the delay of game for the better angle?

    If anyone slows down ND it could be Kelly…not so good under pressure.

  43. cometkazie says: Nov 25, 2012 9:02 AM

    When you take the hater/bonehead comments out, this is a great thread.

    Ain’t college football grand!

    The last time I rooted for ND was when they stopped Okla’s streak in the ’50s and I did get to see in person LSU thrash them a couple of times.

    ND vs tOSU would be boring.

    I just wish they would play the game around xmas instead of waiting so long.

  44. cometkazie says: Nov 25, 2012 9:35 AM

    Let’s see. FSU is playing GaTech for the ACC Championship.

    GaT was walloped by UGa and FSU was handled by the Gators after thoughts of grandeur.

    Let’s match ‘Bama, LSU, the Aggies, Fla, and UGa against the rest. You can even throw in SC.

    I would like to see FSU in the SEC and Kentucky in a basketball conference.

  45. irishking says: Nov 25, 2012 10:03 AM

    This has been a long time coming. I am so thrilled that I feel like I am in heaven. Congratulations to the entire Notre Dame team, Coach Kelly and coaching staff…..what an amazing accomplishment!

  46. ttalarico says: Nov 25, 2012 10:07 AM

    Hey country runner

    Did you watch the Stanford game?

    ND stopped the runner and when the whistle blew there were two ND defenders stopping the runner. The whistle blew and they then released the runner who then continued to run and then crossed the goal. I was there and sitting in that end zone and saw it all. That’s what you should have seen also but you see what you want to see as a ND hater.

    Also, it would have only tied the score, not won it for Stanford.

    Go Irish!

  47. bucrightoff says: Nov 25, 2012 10:08 AM

    Who wasn’t thinking Lane was maybe intentionally sabotaging his teams chances with his piss poor clock management and moronic decision to go for the TD at the end as a means of giving the SEC another FU by preventing another all SEC NCG? It is Lane, so its not a strectch is it?

  48. ttalarico says: Nov 25, 2012 10:12 AM

    I didn’t agree with all of Kelly’s calls but that’s always the case with any coach.

    Do you think ND would be in the NC game without Kelly?

    Get real.

    Go Irish!

  49. ttalarico says: Nov 25, 2012 10:18 AM

    What? If you think that the USC coach threw the game to screw the SEC, you are an idiot.

    Please don’t post any more stupid comments like that. It just wastes everyone’s time. Like me even replying to this.

    Go Irish!

  50. manchestermiracle says: Nov 25, 2012 10:19 AM

    It really doesn’t matter who faces ND in the title game, the Irish won’t win it. They struggled to score against a USC defense that never showed up to play all season long. And the Condoms offense had quite a bit of success against ND’s supposedly stout defense. If not for some astoundingly unimaginative play-calling by Kiffin the Rubbers might have scored a couple more TDs.

    Here’s hoping this pathetic display of coaching gets Kiffin and his staff the axe. Their preparation all season was inadequate, the play-calling utterly predictable, and halftime adjustments non-existent. I can’t recall a coach doing less with this much talent.

    Laughing at all the comments about “ND haters.” The Irish haven’t been relevant for a quarter century, what’s to hate? It’s actually indifference. I’m glad ND made the NC game for two reasons: It might lead to a coaching change at USC and when ND gets hammered it’ll make the thundering silence from yammering Irish Idiots sweeter.

  51. bucrightoff says: Nov 25, 2012 10:20 AM

    Obviously you aren’t aware the Lane is the biggest, most selfish scumbag in the game. Cannot put anything past the man. His fault for earning the rep.

  52. dexterismyhero says: Nov 25, 2012 10:23 AM

    only 45 days or so left until kick-off!!!

    Hell most if you idiots will probably have been put in jail by then.

  53. thegamecocker says: Nov 25, 2012 10:26 AM

    Notre Dame has earned their right to be playing for the NC. They have played and won games against Stanford; Oklahoma away; and USC away. They have also beaten Michigan and Michigan St. two teams which are bowl bound. Each of those teams were psyched and “up” for beating ND. But it did not happen. While I am not a ND supporter, I must be objective and state what I consider to be the truth. I thought ND would lose to Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma, and certainly USC. However with USC’s QB Matt Barkley not playing, I thought the game would be close. IMO, ND defense will keep the NC game close against either Alabama or Georgia. However the defenses of those two schools will ultimately prevail. Congratulations to the Fighting Irish for earning their way in.

  54. cometkazie says: Nov 25, 2012 10:43 AM

    manchestermiracle says:
    Nov 25, 2012 10:19 AM

    Here’s hoping this pathetic display of coaching gets Kiffin and his staff the axe. Their preparation all season was inadequate, the play-calling utterly predictable, and halftime adjustments non-existent. I can’t recall a coach doing less with this much talent.

    I thought that would be Les Miles.

  55. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 10:44 AM

    @manchest You’re right. USC had a lot of success against ND’s defense, to the tune of a HUGE 13 points. It was close to the 51 USC put up against Oregon. How many times did ND punt last night? I’ll take 43 days for ND to correct their red zone scoring, btw. Strange too, how USC didn’t get flagged for mauling Eifert in the end zone. Oh well, Notre Dame lost because their d was so bad. Wait, what?

  56. westcoastredbird says: Nov 25, 2012 11:27 AM

    Congrats to Notre Dame, it’s been a long time. As far as the Trojans go this game is a microcosm of the season. Enough of Kiffen and Kiffen. Pat Haden has probably got Jack Del Rio lined up as the next SC coach about 30 seconds after the game. Maybe Jack can teach this group how to tackle!

  57. bills4 says: Nov 25, 2012 11:32 AM

    @atlantarimjob – it’s their culture. 1st time you guys are relevant in 24 years. Soak it up culture boy. Their culture hasn’t meant squat for a very long time.

  58. shlort says: Nov 25, 2012 11:44 AM

    Doesnt much matter that ND will play for the National Championship. ND will lose to Alabama.

    Not an Alabama fan or a ND fan, but I can tell the difference between these two teams. Alabama is at least twice as good as ND.

    If ND had a good QB, they could make a game of it. It is too bad that Rees never got a shot at being a full time player. That kid shows that he has “it”, in his limited play there. Gohlson, on the other hand, is not the most accurate passer and rarely throws. ND wont beat Alabama running the ball 90% of the time.

  59. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:36 PM

    Shlort, you haven’t watched a single ND game, have you? I’ve read some stupid things today, but you win for by far the stupidest thing typed. Great job!

    To the guy that said Alabama is twice as good as ND, you come a close second. That statement is idiotic, yes, but shlort proved he knows absolutely nothing about ND.

  60. jgater1981 says: Nov 25, 2012 12:38 PM

    Oh wow. I just realized shlort said both of those things. You should probably stop watching football. You’re not very good at it.

  61. 32maniac says: Nov 25, 2012 4:08 PM

    The Notre Dame football mistique quietly fades next year when they join the mediocre ACC. Its been a tough 15 or more years for ND to resurrect its storied football image. This was probably a necessity.

    I do think that Alabame is a better team. We’ll see…

    Just remember… ND kicked its way to winning against USC. Its going to take a lot more offense to beat Alabama if they win as expected against Georgia.

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