Despite Tough Loss, Notre Dame Still #9 in AP Poll

Notre Dame, Ind ( — Notre Dame fans weren’t the only ones to take notice that the Fighting Irish played like one of the best teams in the country yesterday. The AP voters kept the Irish in the top 10 despite the loss and ranked the 2 loss Irish ahead of unbeaten Texas Tech and 1 loss Florida State, Penn State, and Boston College.

It was clear on Saturday that Notre Dame is indeed one of the best teams in the country and were within mere inches of upsetting USC and the AP voters rewarded the Irish for giving USC their biggest test in over 2 seasons. The voters in the Coach’s Poll weren’t as kind with the Irish falling to #12.

While fans from Florida State, Penn State, BC, and Texas Tech may argue the rankings, the #9 ranking is definitely deserved by the Irish. First off, the only case Tech has is that they are undefeated, but please who has this team beat? If they beat Texas they will move ahead of Notre Dame but those early season showdowns with Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State probably haven’t prepared Tech enough to beat the Longhorns.

The fact that Tech is #8 in the Coach’s Poll ahead of fellow unbeaten UCLA is a joke. As for the 1 loss behind Notre Dame, I would like ND’s chances in head to head games with any of them.

What is important about the Irish remaining as highly ranked as they are in both polls is that it sets them up for a BCS run if they win out. Notre Dame has completed the rough part of their schedule and a home game against #17 Tennessee should be the only thing standing in the way of a BCS berth for the Irish.

Unfortunately for the Irish the AP is no longer part of the BCS formula but even at #12 in the Coach’s Poll and #11 in the Harris Poll, the Irish still look they like ar in good position to reach a BCS game this year which would pay the Irish the full 13+ million this year since the new rules for payouts goes into effect next year.

Working in the favor of the Irish right now would be their strength of schedule in the computer polls in the first BCS Standings which come out on Monday.

All of this is moot of course if the Irish do not win out, but after the way they played yesterday, they will be favored in all of their remaining games and the only game that really looks like a challenge is Tennessee in 3 weeks with BYU, Navy, Stanford, and Syracuse looking like easy wins at this point.

CBS currently is predicting Notre Dame against Miami in the Orange Bowl which would be an intriguing matchup. Other teams predicted by CBS in the BCS include Penn State and West Virginia — two more teams that would provide interesting matchups. The Penn State-Notre Dame rivalry is set to renew next year, but fans on both sides would love to see this matchup.

West Virginia would also make for an interesting opponent with the comments West Virginia Rich Rodriguez has made in recent years about Notre Dame and their relationship with the Big East Bowl affiliations.

It’s interesting the difference a few inches can make in these polls. A few inches and Notre Dame is in top 5 in the country, but because Leinart makes that touchdown it means they aren’t even in the top 10 according to the Coach’s Poll.

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