Run the Table, Root and See

Obviously Notre Dame isn't in control of its own destiny as far as earning a spot in the National Championship game, but there is still a glimmer of hope. Losing early is much better than losing late, and if the 13th-ranked Irish run the table and several, several, several things out of their hands go right, ND could still be playing for the title on January 8.

In the eight year history of the Bowl Championship Series, four times a team or teams with one loss has played for the title. In 1998, Florida State was beaten by undefeated Tennessee. In 2000, again the Seminoles rallied from a loss, but couldn't overcome No. 1 Oklahoma. The next year, Nebraska was dismantled by No. 1 Miami. In 2003, three teams had one-loss. LSU defeated Oklahoma in the official BCS title game, and shared the National Championship with USC.

All those teams needed the ball to bounce the correct way for them to earn their shot.

Charlie Weis and his team aren't going to admit to watching other scores and following the college football scene. They will say the same clichés, we are focusing on our own problems and trying to get better one game at a time. Maybe that's true, but Irish fans will be keeping track as long as the loss column remains one for their beloved team.

Here are the games to watch listed in the unofficial Notre Dame fan-rooting guide for the rest of the season. This guide doesn't include unpredictable major upsets like Bowling Green over Ohio State on Oct. 7 (by the way go Falcons). Also remember to pull for the hated USC Trojans (which will ruin things for Oregon and Arizona State ) until Notre Dame travels out there Nov. 25, and anyone playing against Texas Christian University.

Sept. 23 Ohio State vs. Penn State : The rooting against the Buckeyes begins Saturday as they host the Nittany Lions.

Sept. 28 Auburn at South Carolina : Hopefully the ole-ball coach can pull off some magic on Thursday night football.

Sept. 30 Ohio State at Iowa : Iowa will have to lose eventually, but they are one of the few teams that can knock off Troy Smith and company. Michigan at Minnesota : The Wolverines always struggle against the Gophers. Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech: Maybe that zone blitz and Calvin Johnson will be too much for the Hokies.

Oct. 7 Georgia vs. Tennessee : Now that the Vols have lost, the Irish need them to ruin some seasons in the SEC, beginning with the Bulldogs. Florida vs. LSU: Same goes for LSU. Notre Dame needs the SEC schools to beat each other up. They normally do. Michigan vs. Michigan State : Drew Stanton and the Spartans could beat their bitter rival on the road. Texas vs. Oklahoma : Texas and LSU are the only one-loss teams that sit ahead the Irish. The Sooners could end all chances of the Longhorns defending their Championship with a Red River win. Oregon at California : Marshawn Lynch starts building his Heisman candidacy back up vs. the Ducks.

Oct. 14 Auburn vs. Florida : Wait and see how the season plays out before picking a side. Michigan at Penn State : Maybe Penn State can spoil Michigan 's title hopes, like the Wolverines did to the Nittany Lions last season.

Oct. 21 Michigan at Iowa : Maybe this is the time you root against the Hawkeyes. Texas at Nebraska : If Oklahoma didn't get the job done, maybe Nebraska will.

Oct. 26 Virginia Tech vs. Clemson: If the Tigers had early season National Championship aspirations, they were put to rest quickly. Maybe they will be able to take away Frank Beamer's aspirations.

Oct. 28 Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville ): Another wait and see pick. Texas at Texas Tech: The Red Raiders spread offense could be too much for the Longhorns in Lubbock.

Nov. 2 West Virginia at Louisville : The cream of the crop in the Big East should both be undefeated. The Cardinals are more vulnerable to an upset than the Mountaineers, so pull for a healthy Brian Brohm and company here.

Nov. 4 Virginia Tech at Miami : Larry Coker might be able to save his job with a win at home.

Nov. 9 Louisville at Rutgers : Wow. The Cardinals were upset a couple times last year, so maybe here as well.

Nov. 11 Auburn at Georgia : Another wait and see pick. South Carolina at Florida : Steve Spurrier beat his former team last year and could again in his return to Gainsville.

Nov. 18 Ohio State vs. Michigan : Hopefully the Wolverines have lost by this point. Now the Maize and Blue can wreck the Buckeyes campaign like they did in the John Cooper era. Auburn at Alabama : First of all, Alabama better not be undefeated in November. After the Iron Bowl, the Irish faithful hope the Tigers aren't after this one.

Nov. 24 Texas vs. Texas A&M: Maybe Stephen McGee can finish the job against the Longhorns this year. He played well in his first-career start last year in this game.

Nov. 25 Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: If this game matters, the Irish hopes are slim. Louisville at Pittsburgh : See Louisville at Rutgers on Nov. 9.

If all fails during the regular season, it should be easy to pick a side in the conference-championship games. And believe it or not, situations similar to this one played out correctly four other times in BCS history. Top Stories