Notre Dame kicks its way to the BCS national championship

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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.

Clemson likely to lose a starter to… the military

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Oklahoma isn’t the only Power Five program to see a player weighing a football-or-military life choice this offseason.

According to The State, Dabo Swinney has acknowledged that Garrett Williams is “probably not going to be back” with his Clemson football program next season. “[H]e really wants to go into the military,” the Tigers head football coach stated as the reason behind the tight end’s likely move on from the defending national champions.

“He’s around this spring and is going to be out there helping us, but he’s dealing with his health issues. He’s getting his knee back right and he’s got a lot of things he’s dealing with,” Swinney said of Williams.

In April of 2017, Clemson announced that Williams had suffered a torn ACL that sidelined the then-rising junior for the entire season.  Williams came back to start 13 games in the Tigers’ run to the College Football Playoff title.

In the past, Williams, whose father and grandfather served in the military, has stated a desire to either enlist in the Marines or become a Navy SEAL.

As a rising redshirt senior, Williams still has one season of eligibility he could use.

Jalen Hurts has seen Heisman odds shorten since transfer to Oklahoma

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I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?

In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by BetOnline.ag as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.

As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1.  The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.

Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.

For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago.  The top three Heisman odds at this time last year?  Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.

2019 signee who left Oklahoma for the military will instead transfer to another school

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Never mind, I guess.

Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.

“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”

Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”

Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.

Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month.  He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.

Virginia Tech transfer QB Josh Jackson tweets move to Maryland

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For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.

On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland.  Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season.  Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.

After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing.  The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.

Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.

In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones.  The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.