Now sitting at #3 in the BCS poll with four games remaining, Notre Dame can realistically be playing in the BCS Title game. After beating Oklahoma convincingly, they now take a small glimpse of what their future will look like. They play three ACC teams if you count Pittsburgh who like Notre Dame will soon join the ACC.
The combined record of Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Wake Forest is 10-14. Therefore, the Fighting Irish will be heavy favorites in three games that lead up to USC. That can be a little scary in a sense that these are the kind of games where it is easy to let your guard down.
Notre Dame has to contend with the polls more than the other three teams since they don't play any of them.
The computers have been kind to Notre Dame because of their schedule. That may change since the schedule is a little softer.
That is not the case for the other contenders.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The defending champs are still #1, but their schedule is about to get tougher. This week they have the epic rematch of last year's BCS title game with LSU who not only want revenge, but also know that they would be back in the title picture with a win. The Tigers are currently #5. If Alabama gets by LSU, they will have no time to rest as another tough SEC opponent in Texas A & M will be next up for them. The Aggies are currently 6-2.
It will then get a little easier for the Crimson Tide when they face an FCS team in Western Carolina. They end with their annual in state showdown with Auburn. This should not be one to remember in this storied rivalry as the Tigers have struggled to a record of 1-7. The SEC Championship game would be next and it will be another tough game whether it is Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina.
With a schedule like this, Alabama will be in the title game with an undefeated season. What is interesting though is that the SEC is regarded as the toughest conference. Therefore, can a one loss SEC champ get in the title game over not one but potentially two undefeated teams. That is a interesting question.
Kansas State Wildcats
I do take a bit of an issue with Kansas State being ranked ahead of Notre Dame. They have played two common opponents. The first was Miami where the Wildcats beat the Hurricanes by 39 and the Irish beat them by 38. That is not much of a difference. The other one was road games at Oklahoma. If not for mistakes the Sooners might have beat the Wildcats and they were still one play away from a win. The Irish just beat them very impressively.
Nonetheless, Kansas State does have impressive victories over West Virginia and Texas Tech. It won't get any easier for them either as their remaining schedule only has one team with a losing record in Baylor. The other three teams (Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas) all have winning records and will be tough tests for the Wildcats.
For the Ducks, it is real simple. They are an impressive 8-0 but the toughest part of their schedule is still ahead of them. Like Notre Dame, they have to play at USC who would love nothing more than to spoil the plans for both the Ducks and the Irish. Oregon might actually have to see them twice if in the title game. The Ducks also still have to play Stanford and in state rival Oregon State who are both tough opponents.
Unlike Alabama, Kansas State, and Oregon, the toughest part of Notre Dame's schedule other than USC is behind them. That can be good or bad depending on how things play out. The last month will be very exciting for sure.