What a wild, wild week for Notre Dame football, and for the BCS overall.
Irish fans, starving for a potential National Championship game berth, knew that not only did the Irish have to take care of business against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Saturday, but also needed some help from Kansas State or Oregon. Unexpectedly, they got help from both.
But first things first: The Wake Forest game. Things could not have gone better for Notre Dame in this game. It started off with a Cierre Wood 68 yard touchdown run, and ended in a 38-0 beat down in which the Irish were never truly threatened. That’s right: 38-0. The EXACT score I predicted in my preview post. Check it out if you don’t believe (http://wp.me/prUUN-NZ5).
The Irish offense looked the best they have since the season opener, and it was by far their best showing at home. Quarterback Everett Golson was on absolute fire, throwing for 346 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He played so well and the lead got so massive in the third quarter that head coach Brian Kelly decided to rest his young QB and allow senior Tommy Rees to play some on Senior Day. The run game also clicked exceptionally well. In addition to Wood’s 68 yard score, he carried the ball an additional 10 times for a total of 150 yards. The Irish as a team were able to amass 221 yards on the ground against the terrible Wake defense. The Domer Defense also dominated, limiting the Deacons to 209 total yards of offense the entire game. Things were so well in hand that, after George Atkinson’s 9 yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter, head coach Brian Kelly began pulling his starters. The Irish didn’t score any more points, but they didn’t need to, and they still kept Wake Forest off the scoreboard.
If nothing else, this would have been a perfect way to end Senior Night for Manti Te’o, Tyler Eifert, and the rest of the Notre Dame seniors. Then the Kansas State-Baylor and Oregon-Stanford games kicked off.
In what is undoubtedly the biggest upset of the night and probably the entire season, Kansas State got rocked by Baylor, unable to recover from an early 21-7 deficit and 3 Optimus Klein interceptions, eventually falling 52-24. That alone was enough to bump the Irish into one of the top 2 spots in the BCS, and the Oregon-Stanford game hadn’t been decided just yet.
Stanford had held the high scoring Duck’s offense to 14 points and took the game into overtime. Oregon missed its field goal attempt on the first overtime possession, but it looked like the Ducks might have a chance to win the game when Cardinal freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan fumbled the ball in overtime on a 2nd and 8 run. Stanford miraculously recovered the ball, and two plays later kicked Oregon out of the National Championship picture with a 17-14 victory.
Those two stunning development means the Irish are now officially #1 in both human polls for the first time since 1993 (yours truly was 10 years old at the time), and #1 in the BCS standings for the first time in the BCS era.
Irish fans should be excited, but need to curb that enthusiasm a little bit as their team still needs to get past a struggling USC team (now without their star quarterback, who suffered an injury late in their game against UCLA) who has absolutely nothing to lose. Do that, and the Irish will have a shot at their first championship since that 1988.
Follow me on Twitter @expertfan1