History was made in college football when the Bowl Championship Series rankings were released Sunday night. It marked the first time in the annals of the BCS (begun in 1998) and the NCAA Graduation Success Rate rankings that any team has ranked No. 1 in both in the current BCS standings and in the current NCAA GSR ratings.
Notre Dame stands first in the BCS standings at 11-0 among the FBS programs. The Fighting Irish in 2012 also finished with the top GSR score at 97 (tied with Northwestern). It was followed by Boston College and Miami (Fla.) at 94; Rice at 93; Duke at 92; Penn State and Rutgers at 91, and Stanford at 90.
This marks Notre Dame's first No. 1 ranking since Nov. 14, 1993, after the Irish had beaten No. 1 Florida State, 31-24, to take over the top spot.
One week ago, all the conversation centered on an Oregon-Kansas State matchup for the national title, Notre Dame getting left out in the cold as the third wheel, and the SEC’s six-year stranglehold on the national title about to end.
What a difference another weekend of college football made. For the first time since 2007, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams lost the same weekend, with Kansas State getting drubbed 52-24 by Baylor and Oregon falling in overtime to Stanford, 17-14. It was in 2007 that LSU moved up all the way from 7th in the closing weeks to No. 2 and eventually won the BCS title despite incurring two defeats.
Head coach Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish now sit in the pole position, with the SEC riding shotgun for the Jan. 7 national title matchup in Miami. Of course, there’s still the matter of 11-0 Notre Dame — the lone unbeaten and eligible BCS team — needing to win at long-time nemesis USC this Saturday to punch its ticket to the title game.
So much is made about the four-team playoff format that will begin in 2014 for college football, but Notre Dame basically is already in the “four-team playoff.” Win on Saturday and it advances to the final. Here are the BCS rankings:
1. Notre Dame (11-0) — .997
2. Alabama (10-1) — .933
3. Georgia (10-1) — .876
4. Florida (10-1) .843
5. Oregon (10-1) — .832
6. Kansas State (10-1) — .769
7. LSU (9-2) — .731
8. Stanford (9-2) — .708
9. Texas A&M (9-2) — .653
10. Florida State (10-1) — .636
Interestingly, during the ESPN telecast of the BCS rankings, it was revealed that every SEC team would be favored over Notre Dame in the title game if the two were to meet — with Alabama getting a 10-point nod.
Notre Dame played Alabama in back-to-back bowls during Fighting Irish head coach Ara Parseghian’s last two seasons. In the 1973 Sugar Bowl, the No. 3 Irish defeated No. 1 Alabama 24-23 to finish 11-0 and capture the consensus title.
The following year in the 1975 Orange Bowl, Alabama was 11-0 again and playing for the national title against 9-2 Notre Dame, which was coming off a 55-24 loss at USC and was close to a double-digit underdog. The Irish won 13-11 in Parseghian’s final game.