(UHND.com) – Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan back on September 16th knocked Notre Dame to the back of the national title race, but after ripping off five straight wins, the Irish has some slim title hopes. USC’s loss to unranked Oregon State on Saturday, however, might have been the knockout blow to Notre Dame’s fleeting title aspirations.
It’s funny to think that a team can essentially be eliminated from the race without losing. Notre Dame as we all know, won this weekend with a 38-14 win over Navy (5-3), but a game taking place thousands of miles away may have put the final nail in Notre Dame’s once promising title hopes.
With USC losing, Notre Dame has now lost the chance to a truly marquee type win to establish itself amongst the other one loss teams. Had USC remained undefeated prior to the November 25th showdown in Los Angeles, Notre Dame would have had the chance to play top three team, undefeated team on the road. A win in that type of environment could have been enough to make the Irish serious title contenders if there was only one undefeated team.
Note I stress that a win only could have put the Irish right into the mix as there was no guarantee that even if Notre Dame won that type of game that they would leap frog other schools in the rankings much the way they have jumped Notre Dame.
Now that USC has a loss with a real possibility of more coming before that Thanksgiving weekend showdown, a win over say a two loss, just outside the top 10 USC team won’t be enough to push the Irish over some of the other one loss teams. USC must play Oregon and Cal before hosting the Irish and after their last four both of those games are going to be very difficult on the Trojans even though both will be played at home.
If Notre Dame was ranked higher among the one loss teams, climbing the seven spots needed to reach the second position might be a bit more feasible, but with Army, Air Force, and North Carolina before the UCS game, Notre Dame doesn’t have much opportunity to impress the voters.
For Notre Dame to move up much between now and then, they will obviously need some help and will need some truly dominating performances in the next three. And when I say dominating, I mean completely dominating like the Penn State game where the Irish led 41-3 in the fourth quarter before two garbage time touchdowns.
Even with their national title hopes on life support, the Irish are still just one spot away from a guaranteed BCS Bowl birth which would put the Irish in a major bowl for the second year in a row. To put that in perspective, the Irish went to exactly one BCS bowl combined under Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie.
So, while the ultimate goal might have just gotten even more out of reach, there is still a lot left to be accomplished by this team such as a bowl victory. After all, this is the 13th season since the last time a Notre Dame team was victorious in the post season.