Are Notre Dame, BCS on a controversial collision course?


Are Notre Dame, BCS on a controversial collision course?

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brian Hedger (, Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bears reluctantly go back to Jay Cutler as the starter. Meanwhile, can the Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

The guys give their predictions for the Bulls season, Hedger dissects the Blackhawks penalty kill problems and Teddy explains why Michigan will win the Big Ten.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

Could Cubs start Kyle Schwarber in World Series game at Wrigley Field?

Could Cubs start Kyle Schwarber in World Series game at Wrigley Field?

CLEVELAND — “No, not right now,” Kyle Schwarber said without hesitation when asked if playing the outfield would be a possibility. The Cubs had just lost their first World Series game in 71 years, with Schwarber showing a minimal amount of rust for someone who hadn’t seen big-league action in more than six months.

Hitting with a brace wrapped around his surgically repaired left knee, Schwarber blasted a double off Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and split his matchups against nasty lefty reliever Andrew Miller (walk/strikeout) during Tuesday’s 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

Schwarber keeps smashing all expectations, returning from a gruesome outfield collision that was supposed to keep him sidelined until winter ball — and then a return to the 2017 Opening Day lineup if everything went smoothly.

Manager Joe Maddon promised reporters that they would be surprised by how well Schwarber runs now. Schwarber estimated that video from his Arizona Fall League tune-up represented “about 50 percent” of what he could actually do.

So when the World Series shifts on Friday to Wrigley Field — where the designated hitter will no longer be an option — could the Cubs start Schwarber in the outfield?

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

“I have no idea,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s Game 2. “I just want to keep an open mind. But I could keep as open of a mind as I possibly can — it’s up to the doctors to say what he can and cannot do. I would imagine that him playing and coming in today feeling normal is a positive.

“(With) his play tonight — and then we have a day off tomorrow — we can probably reevaluate. I have no proprietary information regarding what a doctor really thinks about this.

“So if it’s brought up to us, and the doc thinks he can ... but I’ve not even asked that question yet to the doctor. We were just trying to get one thing done at a time.”

The Cubs will at least have Schwarber looming as a dangerous pinch-hitter who generated five home runs and a 1.308 OPS during last year’s playoffs. Everything from that clutch performance to his middle-linebacker build to his show-choir video from high school endeared him to Cubs fans.

Just showing Schwarber’s face on the Wrigley Field video board would get a reaction during a random game in the regular season, when he essentially acted like a cheerleader in the dugout. Now imagine him walking up to home plate in the World Series.

“The fans are going to go berserk,” Maddon said. “Our fans really appreciate how hard he worked to get back for this moment. Not everybody would have done that. That’s a tough injury to come back from — really tough — and to accelerate his recovery as much as he (did) speaks to him and the training staff. And I think our fans will appreciate that.”