What Alabama's loss means for Notre Dame

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What Alabama's loss means for Notre Dame

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- In the span of three and a half hours Saturday afternoon, it's a pretty safe assumption that "Gig 'em" entered the lexicon of Notre Dame nation.

The legend of Johnny Football grew Saturday in Tuscaloosa, with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel leading a stunning 29-24 Aggie win over the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide. The win sent shockwaves from coast to coast, as the group of unbeaten teams in college football shrunk to three.

While Alabama's loss was Notre Dame's gain, it wasn't a topic of discussion in the Irish locker room.

"Oh no. No no no. Absolutely not," coach Brian Kelly said, shaking his head. " We didn't even talk about it. We talked about what we have to do to win next week against Wake Forest."

That's the mentality Notre Dame has taken -- no player on the team will admit to caring about the results of Alabama, Kansas State or Oregon, even if they have a direct impact on their shot at a title. For Notre Dame, it's about controlling what they can control, which wasn't Manziel's terrific performance at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"I was watching the game before. I didn't hear they lost, I knew they were down, but I was watching the game before," quarterback Everett Golson explained. "I turned it off a little bit and tried to get ready for this game right here, because that's all I could really control."

Notre Dame should move up to No. 3 in the newest BCS standings released Sunday, behind presumptive No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon. K-State topped TCU 23-10 in Fort Worth, while Oregon's offense was in its usual explosive state against Cal.

KSU faces Baylor in Waco and Texas in Manhattan to close out the year, while Oregon draws Stanford at home, Oregon State on the road and then probably USC at home in the Pac 12 championship game.

Notre Dame won't jump ahead of K-State or Oregon if all three teams finish undefeated, no matter how impressive or unimpressive the trio look in their final games. All Notre Dame can do is win out, although the Irish aren't co-opting the survive-and-advance mentality that permeates the NCAA basketball tournament.

"When you stop playing to win and start playing not to lose, that's when you start getting in trouble," linebacker Manti Te'o said. "We just gotta play Notre Dame football and come out every single week and start firing on all cylinders."

And no, a one-loss Alabama team won't leapfrog an undefeated Notre Dame side -- College Football Talk's John Taylor spoke to someone who knows the BCS formula, and that person didn't see an avenue for a one-loss team to be ranked ahead of an undefeated team at the end of the season.

Notre Dame's national championship hopes haven't completely crystallized yet. Even with Alabama out of the equation, there's still one more loss needed for the Irish to break through into the BCS Championship picture.

But they're one step closer to a top-two ranking and trip to Miami. First, though, they have to take care of their own business -- which, as the Irish have experienced this season, won't be easy.

"It's only as real as Wake Forest," Te'o said of Notre Dame's championship aspirations. "We have to deal with Wake Forest and play one game at a time. That's proof that it's college football. Any team can lose at any time. We just don't want to be that team."

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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