"Mrs. Doubtfire" was the nation's No. 1 movie the last time Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll (the BCS standings didn't yet exist). Bill Clinton became President, Beanie Babies were launched and the World Wide Web was in its infant stages.
It was 1993, and while several current Notre Dame players were born, most of them were in diapers. Coach Brian Kelly was the head coach at Grand Valley State (Mich.) with dreams of coaching at a school as prestigious as Notre Dame.
None of them could have foreseen the history they'd make.
Against all odds, Notre Dame has found itself atop the BCS standings for the first time in school history. Just a week after pundits said there was little hope of the Irish climbing to No. 1, they're now a win over USC away from playing for their first national championship since the 1988 season.
[Related: Chaos in the BCS as top two fall]
Four months ago, this didn't seem possible. Notre Dame was coming off its second consecutive eight-win season and was facing the most daunting schedule in college football. Kelly was on a warm seat as another eight-win season appeared to be in the cards.
But fortune has seemingly smiled on the Irish all season.
They needed a last-minute drive against Purdue to win 20-17 in early September and forced six turnovers against Michigan to hold on for a 13-6 victory. There was a controversial ending in Notre Dame's 20-13 overtime victory against Stanford and the Irish scraped by BYU 17-14 the following week.
And let's not forget the 29-26 triple-overtime come-from-behind win against Pittsburgh, which almost put Notre Dame out of this conversation for good.
Every time it looked like the Irish would fade from the national championship chase, they punched back and came away victorious.
But do they have one more unlikely triumph left in their arsenal?
It seems like something is already working in Notre Dame's favor with USC quarterback Matt Barkley nursing a badly injured shoulder and out for the game. Still, the Irish will be an underdog on the Trojans' home turf.
(US Presswire)And the pressure of the SEC bearing down on Notre Dame can't be easy. With Oregon losing to Stanford and Kansas State losing to Baylor, Alabama moved back to No. 2 with Georgia and Florida nipping at the Tide's heels. Oregon is hoping for help at No. 5.
Alabama plays Auburn in its regular-season finale and should clinch a spot in the SEC title game against No. 3 Georgia, which plays Georgia Tech.
Oregon could still work its way back into the title game with a win over Oregon State and losses by each of the SEC teams ahead of it, or a win over Oregon State, a Notre Dame loss, a Florida loss to Florida State and a loss by Georgia either against Georgia Tech or Alabama in the SEC championship game. Oregon also could get to Miami with a win over Oregon State, a Florida loss to Florida State, a Georgia loss to Georgia Tech and a Georgia upset of Alabama in the title game. And none of these scenarios take into account that Oregon could still work its way back into the Pac-12 conference championship game with a win over Oregon State and a Stanford loss to UCLA.
Did you get all that?
For those who advocated for a playoff, this is it. It's a win-or-go home scenario for every team in the top four, and no one has an easy road. With the exception of Notre Dame, every team in the top four of the BCS standings has to face a ranked team before the end of the season.
This race is far from over.
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