Notre Dame prevents BCS bedlam

By defeating USC on Saturday, the top-ranked Irish rescued the Bowl Championship Series from a possible mess involving one-loss teams.

Jawanza Starling, Cierre Wood, Lamar Dawson

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood picks up yardage before USC safety Jawanza Starling (29) and linebacker Lamar Dawson (55) can tackle him. (Harry How / Getty Images / November 24, 2012)

Notre Dame is a religious school with a storied history of priests, playbooks, prayer books and spiritual advisors.

No one in the Coliseum press box could actually recall, though, the Irish saving a season.

That changed Saturday night when Notre Dame defeated USC, 22-13, and rescued this year's Bowl Championship Series from a humongous one-loss egg scramble.

Notre Dame's defeat would have left a giant mess that could have led some people to think the 14-year-old system is actually flawed.

Thank you, Notre Dame, for kicking five field goals and playing great defense.

Thank you Irish, for that magnificent goal-line stand in the final minutes. And thank you, USC Coach Lane Kiffin, for the play-calling that also made it possible.

"They do that to everybody," Kiffin said afterward.

Praise you, Notre Dame, for winning the game and making this a clear-cut national-title election.

Notre Dame, with its glorious victory, finished the regular season 12-0 and will play in its first BCS title game Jan. 7 in South Florida.

The Irish will face the winner of next week's Southeastern Conference title game between Alabama and Georgia.

How simple is that?

Had Notre Dame lost, gulp, next week's SEC winner would have faced the survivor of an ugly BCS bake-off pitting one-loss Oregon and Florida. Neither of those schools even won its own division of its own conference.

Thank goodness that's a high-calorie story line none of us will have to pen.

Never mind how Notre Dame got here or how unnerving it was at times. Everything, in the end, fell into place.

If Knute Rockne were alive today, he'd say of this season, "The breaks actually never went against these boys."

It doesn't matter that the Irish beat Purdue by only three and needed overtime and instant replay to defeat Stanford.

Never mind that the Irish had two players wearing No. 2 on the game-winning field-goal attempt Pittsburgh missed in overtime.

The referees didn't see it, so it doesn't matter.

Notre Dame doesn't mind playing close games — in fact it tries to lure opponents into them.

The Irish have won five games this year by a touchdown or less — including two in overtime.



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