Notre Dame 1 win from BCS title game

| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 7:54 p.m.

Two straight weekends of seismic upsets not only sent tremors throughout college football from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest, they've all but cleared the way for two marquee teams and best-known brands to play for the national title.

Notre Dame was No. 1 in the Associated Press college football poll released Sunday, and Alabama was No. 2 after a pair of stunning Saturday night upsets rearranged the rankings. When the BCS standings came out later Sunday, they lined up the same way.

Notre Dame needs only to beat struggling rival Southern Cal, with its star quarterback injured, to secure a spot in the BCS title game for the first time. In the 76-year history of the AP poll, Notre Dame has been crowned national champion by the media panel eight times, the most recent in 1988.

“It's like being selected for the playoffs,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Now you know you're in if you take care of business.”

The only other school with as many AP titles is Alabama. The Crimson Tide potentially has two more games left. The Tide is at home Saturday against rival Auburn, and if it beats the Tigers, it advances to the SEC title game against No. 3 Georgia on Dec. 1.

Win that one, too, and it will be Notre Dame and Alabama playing Jan. 7 in Miami for the national title.

Last week, then-BCS No. 1 Alabama lost for the first time. And this week, it was then-BCS No. 2 Oregon and No. 1 Kansas State that were upset.

Oregon slipped to No. 5 in this week's BCS rankings, while Kansas State fell to No. 7.

Their losses may have opened the door a little for No. 6 Florida. The Gators play No. 10 Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee.

A Notre Dame-Alabama BCS championship game would mark the first meeting between the storied programs since 1987 and the biggest since the '73 Sugar Bowl.

That year, coach Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide was No. 1 and Ara Parseghian's Irish were No. 3 when they met in New Orleans. The lead changed hands six times and Notre Dame won, 24-23.

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