A night of upsets and Irish, Tide rise in football

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When the latest BCS standings and AP rankings come out Sunday Notre Dame almost certainly will be No. 1.

Alabama, fourth in the BCS last week, will most likely be in second place this week, followed by SEC rivals Georgia and Florida.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly won’t need to go on television with Oprah Winfrey, as he said he would earlier this week, to plead his team’s case for playing in the BCS title game. Just beat rival Southern California next week at the Los Angeles Coliseum and book the plane tickets to Miami, where the BCS national title game will be played Jan. 7.

USC, the preseason No. 1 team, lost again on Saturday, 38-28 to UCLA, to fall to 7-4. And Trojans star quarterback Matt Barkley was knocked out of Saturday’s game by a hard hit. No word yet on whether he’ll play next week, but if he doesn’t Notre Dame’s path gets even smoother.

As for the SEC, it’s pretty simple.

Alabama (10-1) and Georgia (10-1) have already sealed up spots in the conference title game on Dec. 1, but both have games still to play.

The Tide plays hapless rival Auburn next week. The Bulldogs face Georgia Tech. If they both win, the SEC title game again becomes a de facto national semifinal, with the winner likely advancing to Miami, trying to extend win the league’s seventh straight national crown.

Sprinkle in a Georgia Tech win and the Bulldogs beating Alabama in the SEC title game, and No. 7 Florida (10-1) could be the SEC’s representative, though the Gators have to play at No. 10 Florida State (10-1).

The Seminoles aren’t out of the race yet either, especially if USC shocks Notre Dame. Though if that happens, just about any team with only one loss will be making claim to be in the big game, even Oregon and Kansas State if they can win their conferences.

Or consider this.

USC beats Notre Dame, Florida beats Florida State, and either Georgia or Alabama finishes 12-1. Add it up and it could be an all-SEC championship game for the second straight year.

Or there could be split national championship. Undefeated Ohio State is No. 6 in the AP Top 25 but ineligible to win the BCS title because it is NCAA-banned from playing in a bowl game.

If all the other contenders falter, Ohio State could be the lone unbeaten left standing and lay claim to the AP title.

Sounds crazy, but after Saturday night, nothing seems far-fetched.

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