The first BCS standings of the year were announced Sunday, leaving Irish fans with mixed emotions. The Irish stand 8th in the first installment of the rankings, equal to their ranking in the Coaches poll. Still, some fans were hoping for more.
Last weekend, ESPN columnist and BCS expert Brad Edwards predicted Notre Dame to fall in the 6th spot of the BCS rankings, ranked as the top 1-loss team. Sunday the Irish were third among 1-loss teams, trailing Auburn, ranked 4th, and Florida, ranked 6th.
If Notre Dame is to make a run at the National Championship in the 2006 season they will need some help. West Virginia and Louisville, ranked 5th and 7th respectively, both face fairly easy schedules the rest of the way with the exception of their contest. Furthermore, both Ohio State and Michigan, 1st and 3rd respectively, face similarly easy schedules the rest of this season with the exception of their match up. The winner of one of those games will need to be upset along the way for the Irish to leapfrog their way into the top two.
USC, ranked 2nd, will host the Irish in their annual rivalry on November 25th. The Trojans find themselves in control of their own destiny. If they win out against a schedule that includes games at home against Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame, the Trojans will find themselves in the championship game.
The top 10 is rounded out by two other one-loss teams with Texas at #9 and California at #10.
With seven weeks left anything can happen, but the Irish know that all they can control is the results of their own games. For now they can only hope to win out and let the rest of the pieces fall as they may. The first step of puzzle comes this Saturday with a match up against UCLA at 2:30 pm. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBC.