Irish look to complete perfect season
UNDATED (AP) - Notre Dame can wrap up a perfect season and clinch a spot in the BCS title game with a win over Southern California today.
The 11-0 Fighting Irish go into the game with their intersectional rival sixth in the nation in total defense and first in scoring defense, surrendering just 10.09 points per game. Linebacker and Heisman Trophy hopeful Manti Te'o leads the Irish defense.
Facing them will be a formable task for redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek, who gets the start in place of the injured Matt Barkley. The Trojans starter is sidelined with a sprained shoulder. Wittek is bigger and stronger than Barkley, but has only played in mop-up roles for 7-4 USC.
Number-two Alabama has its sights set on another trip to the BCS championship and has two more hurdles to overcome to get there. The first comes this afternoon against struggling Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl. The 10-1 Crimson Tide is favored by more than four touchdowns, based in part on the strength of the second-ranked defense in the country.
The emotions of the in-state rivalry are going to have to spark the Tigers, because their 3-8 record and 0-7 mark in the SEC suggests they'll be in for a tough afternoon.
If Alabama wins, it'll be on to the SEC title game where they will find third-ranked Georgia. The 10-1 Bulldogs hope to use that game as a springboard to the BCS championship game. But they'll have to get by Georgia Tech first. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown 11 touchdowns with no interceptions in his last three games. He'll be joining against a Yellow Jackets defense that has struggled most of the season.
Georgia Tech would like nothing more than to end the national championship aspirations of their in-state rivals. The Yellow Jackets are 6-5 and headed to the ACC title game.
Fourth-ranked Ohio State tries to close out a perfect 12-0 season when it hosts arch rival and 20th-ranked Michigan. Going unbeaten will have to be the equivalent of a national championship for the Buckeyes, who are ineligible for the postseason. The Wolverines are 8-3.
Fifth-ranked Oregon fell out of the top spot in the BCS standings with their overtime loss at home to Stanford last week. The explosive Ducks still have an outside chance of sneaking back into the title conversation, but will need a win against No.15 Oregon State first, then hope for some help.
In all, there are 15 games involving ranked teams on the schedule.
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