The Fighting Irish narrowed the gap behind second-place Miami in the Bowl Championship Series standings released Monday, with Oklahoma holding on to the top spot.
The difference between second and third is so tiny that if Notre Dame beats Boston College next weekend, it might be enough to move the Fighting Irish ahead of Miami. The Hurricanes, No. 1 in both the AP media and the coaches' polls, visit weakling Rutgers.
But it's the final BCS standings Dec. 8 that will determine which teams play in the national title game at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 3.
For now, though, the possibilities are intriguing -- the top six teams in the BCS standings are unbeaten, and five can finish the season with perfect records.
"If five teams finish undefeated, the BCS poll still determines who plays in the national championship game," BCS coordinator Michael Tranghese said. "And, yes, there will be controversy. But this is the system."
Willis McGahee and Miami might slip to No. 3 in the BCS if Notre Dame can get by Boston College.
The BCS formula uses the AP media and coaches' polls, computer polls, strength of schedule, won-loss record and a bonus-point system.
Notre Dame, 8-0 after a 34-24 win over Florida State, moved up thanks largely to its rise from No. 6 to No. 4 in the media poll.
Oklahoma (7-0) had 3.33 points -- 2 for poll average, 1.17 for computer-rank average, 0.56 for strength-of-schedule, zero for losses and a 0.4 deduction for a victory over Texas.
Miami (7-0) had 6.69 points -- 1 for poll average, 4.33 for computer average, 1.36 for strength of schedule, zero for losses and no bonus-point deduction.
Notre Dame had 6.99 points -- 5 for poll average, 1.83 for computer average, 0.16 for strength of schedule and no bonus-point deduction.
Oklahoma, No. 2 in the AP media and the coaches' poll, probably will reach the title game if it stays unbeaten.
The remaining games for Miami and Notre Dame appear to give the Hurricanes an edge in strength of schedule. After this week, Notre Dame plays weak teams Navy (1-7) and Rutgers (1-7) before its finale against USC (6-2). Miami plays Tennessee (4-3), Pittsburgh (6-2), Syracuse (2-6) and Virginia Tech (8-0). Bowl Championship Series college football ratings The following are the Bowl Championship Series college football ratings: (Through games of Oct. 26)
1 Oklahoma 3.33
2 Miami 6.69
3 Notre Dame 6.99
4 Georgia 8.24
5 Ohio State 9.49
6 Virginia Tech 10.88
7 Texas 15.64
8 Washington St.19.71
9 N.C. State 20.73
10 Iowa 22.89
11 Southern Cal 23.04
12 Colorado 29.51
13 Michigan 31.22
14 LSU 36.78
15 Kansas St. 37.11