OKLAHOMA CITY -- Notre Dame proved on Saturday that it's a legitimate national title contender. The latest BCS rankings, however, still have the Irish on the outside looking in of the BCS championship picture.
Notre Dame moved up two spots to No. 3 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night, leapfrogging No. 4 Oregon after beating Oklahoma 30-13 in Norman. Alabama and Kansas State occupy the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the BCS standings, respectively.
Kansas State has four games left, and should be favored to win all of them. Alabama still has two major tests remaining, with a road trip to LSU this weekend and, potentially, the SEC championship. Oregon will also have plenty of chances to move ahead of Notre Dame andor Kansas State, with games against USC, Stanford and Oregon State remaining.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame draws Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest in its next three games before a critical trip to Los Angeles to face USC. For that game to matter in the national championship picture, though, Notre Dame might need to start winning in more impressive fashion. While margin of victory isn't factored into BCS computer rankings, it certainly plays a role in the coaches poll, which is a component of the BCS standings.
"All of your games, if they were blowouts, that is the way you'd want them to be designed," coach Brian Kelly said Sunday. "But I don't think that there's any actual conversation or the way we practice or prepare that would get that to be something that we even talk about. So the reality of it is it's clear that you want to win your games and you want to win them in convincing fashion. But there is nothing that we'll do practically that will emphasize that in any way. It kind of becomes a moot point for us to even discuss it."
In last week's coaches poll, Notre Dame has 1221 points, 105 behind then-No. 4 Kansas State. The Irish closed that gap this week, though, and sit 59 points behind No. 3 K-State. With Florida's loss to Georgia, both Notre Dame and K-State moved up -- and attrition may be the only way for the Irish to continue to climb in the BCS rankings from here on out.
"I think it was pretty easy one for me," Kelly said of his coaches poll ballot. "I think I kept the poll pretty much where it was, and we moved up one based upon the Florida loss."
But here's a question that may need to be answered: Would a one-loss SEC team deserve a national championship bid over an undefeated Notre Dame, Oregon or Kansas State?
If Alabama loses a close game to LSU in Baton Rouge, there still would a legitimate argument to be made that Nick Saban's squad is one of the best in the country. Would a one-loss team from the nation's best conference get a national championship bid over a Notre Dame team that may only have one truly "signature" win (note: if Notre Dame beats USC, it could very well be the Trojans' fourth loss of the year, unless Lane Kiffin pulls out a miracle against Oregon this weekend)?
At this point, Notre Dame may be best-served rooting against K-State and Oregon to slide into the national championship picture. Right now, they're not in it, even with Saturday's impressive win.
Buckle up. At this rate, we could be heading toward the most controversial year in BCS history.