Notre Dame’s 13-6 win over rival Michigan Saturday was enough to push the Irish into the top 10 for the first time since 2006 after they moved up one position to 10th in the latest AP Poll released Sunday.
Four weeks into the season, Notre Dame finds itself at a somewhat surprising 4-0 mark after yesterday’s victory over Michigan – the latest the Fighting Irish have been undefeated in a season in a decade. The win, despite a rather underwhelming performance from the Irish offense, was enough for the Irish to edge their way into the top 10 thanks to losses by Clemson and Oklahoma.
Among Notre Dame opponents, Stanford is now the highest ranked foe the Irish face in 2012 with the Cardinal moving up one spot despite being idle this weekend following their upset of USC last weekend. The previous highest ranked opponent, Oklahoma fell from 6th, all the way down to 16th after being upset at home by Kansas State. The Wildcats, meanwhile, were able to leapfrog Notre Dame in the rankings after their big road victory.
Other Notre Dame opponents ranked in the latest poll include – USC at #13 and Michigan State at #20. The Trojans bounced back from their loss to Stanford with a 27-9 win over Cal while Michigan State got all they could handle from Eastern Michigan before pulling away in the 4th quarter for a 23-7 victory. Purdue, Miami, and Michigan all received some votes, but none collected enough to crack the top 25.
The 10th place ranking is more than fair for the Irish at this point even though technically Notre Dame does have back to back wins over ranked opponents due to Michigan State’s lack luster performance and Notre Dame’s own struggles on the offensive side of the ball.
It’s possible Notre Dame could move up again next week despite having a bye week, but there aren’t too many tough matchups for anyone in the top 10 next weekend. None of the other top 10 teams face another ranked opponent although Stanford travels to Washington on Thursday and #5 Georgia hosts Tennessee on Saturday.
Assuming Stanford takes care of business the next two weeks and Notre Dame handles its own business against Miami in two weeks, a potential showdown of top 10 teams could be looming when Stanford travels to South Bend on October 13. The last time two 10 top 10 squared off in Notre Dame Stadium? 2005’s classic against USC.
Speaking of USC, the last time Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 was prior to the 2006 showdown with USC when the then 6th ranked Irish traveled to Southern California and were beat 44-24 by the 3rd ranked Trojans. Before fans start to think about the possibility of College Game Day traveling to campus though, Notre Dame-Stanford will be competing with South Carolina-LSU and Oklahoma-Texas.