Notre Dame eyeing undefeated home season
By Chicago Tribune
Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Leaving barely enough time to take a breath, Kevin Ash ticked off all the permutations the race for a Rose Bowl bid could involve over the season's final couple of weeks.
And then he noted one of the juicy subplots over the regular season's final weeks: USC, with national title plans ruined, ruining not one but two championship dreams before it's done.
The Trojans could beat UCLA on Saturday to earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game. The next week, they could beat Notre Dame, ending the Irish's title hopes. The week after that, they could beat Oregon, almost assuredly gashing the Ducks' chances. All while basically having nothing better to do.
“It's really interesting,” Ash, the Rose Bowl's chief administrative officer, said. “It's almost a tapestry of games that are going to be played here in the next couple of weeks, and they all affect what could possibly go on.”
As of the moment, there are basically seven games left that will define the national championship chase, including No. 3 Notre Dame's final home tilt against Wake Forest on Saturday: Two games for the Irish. Two for Kansas State. Three for Oregon.
If Notre Dame wins both, it needs just one loss between the five Wildcats and Ducks games combined to slide into the BCS title game. If it loses either, the discussion is moot, which is why again there was no from-the-treetops discussion even before the middling Demon Deacons arrived.
“The only thing we talk about in terms of a goal (is) they want to go undefeated at home,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “That's really important to this group.
“They don't talk about 11-0 or 12-0 or national championships or bowl games or any of those things. They want to win this last home game because they want to be that group that went undefeated at home. That's what's important to them.”
At a glance, it would appear that Kansas State has the clearest path to an undefeated regular season. Collin Klein and Co. venture to Baylor on Saturday, and the Bears sport the worst defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision (519.78 yards allowed per game). A home game with Texas follows, but the Wildcats have two weeks to prepare for the Dec. 1 tilt.
Oregon, meanwhile, has three rugged games: Stanford on Saturday, at Oregon State and then a presumed home game for the Pac-12 title. Notre Dame still has a road trip to USC on Nov. 24 — the Trojans' first chance to play championship spoiler, against their most hated rival — which is as eminently winnable as it is losable.
“We know what we have to do,” Irish center Braxston Cave said. “As much as people want to push it away, every guy knows what's at stake.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 4 dead in ‘horrific’ Armstrong County crash
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- U.S. attorney seeks plan for reducing heroin overdoses
- Group wants Consol to adhere to terms of Greene County mining permit
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- Bishop Zubik urges Catholics to evangelize
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Authorities investigating skeletal remains found in Ohio River in Avalon
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Nine state universities challenged over athletic opportunites for women