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posted: 11/21/2012 5:30 AM

Notre Dame need not apologize for top spot

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  • Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn't have to make any apologies for why his team is at the top of college football.

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn't have to make any apologies for why his team is at the top of college football.
    Associated Press


To borrow from beloved poet William B. Munny, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it."

That's all Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has to say if his team gets harassed for participating in the BCS title game, when many experts will insist that Notre Dame doesn't deserve a shot at the big prize.

And make no mistake, the Irish will take some heat for being one of the final two standing.

They've won five games at home by a touchdown or less -- including close games against awful teams like Purdue, BYU and Pitt -- but if they can get past USC on Saturday, they will have run the table, something no other eligible team can say.

USC's defense, by the way, couldn't stop the University of Guam scout team right now, and offensively they are without quarterback Matt Barkley. So while Irish QB Everett Golson is getting better each week, the Trojans will start redshirt freshman Max Wittek against a dynamite Notre Dame defense.

Yeah, it sure looks like the Irish will play Jan. 7 in Miami for the national championship.

Now, that isn't to say Notre Dame is one of the two best teams in the country. The Irish probably aren't among the best six or seven teams in the country, but it doesn't matter because they control their own destiny and will have a shot to win it all for the first time since 1988 if they take care of business in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, assuming victories by Alabama and Georgia against weak teams this weekend, the Tide and Bulldogs will face off in the SEC championship game in what amounts to a national semifinal for the chance to play Notre Dame.

I fully admit that I didn't believe Notre Dame could get here and was quite obviously wrong, but whether you like them or not, when the Irish are involved it makes it all a lot more interesting.

If there were a legit playoff system that forced Notre Dame to play a couple of games against the best teams in the country, I doubt they would survive. But there is no playoff yet of any kind so -- unlike last year -- you won't get the two best teams in the country playing for the title.

Again, not Notre Dame's problem and no apology is necessary. They played the games on their schedule and they've won them all.

If Kansas State, Oregon or any other team has a problem with that, they have only themselves to blame.

Northern Illinois

The Huskies (10-1) have made it into the top 25 in several polls, including the AP (24), Coaches (23) and Harris (24). After traveling to Eastern Michigan on Friday, NIU will head back to Detroit for the MAC championship game against Kent State at Ford Field on Nov. 30. Kent State (10-1) is 23rd in the AP Poll, 25th in the Coaches and 25th in the Harris.

Thibodeau Award

For failing to know when enough is enough and pull your irreplaceable players from the game, to Bill Belichick.

Never mind Rob Gronkowski being in for that last meaningless drive, touchdown and extra point. What in the name of Derrick Rose and all that's holy was Tom Brady doing in a game up 4 touchdowns with 7:37 left and -- even more insane -- dropping back to pass?

If you weren't screaming at your TV, it could only be that you weren't watching the game.

There is absolutely no excuse for leaving Brady in and exposing him to a blitz, and as bad as the Gronkowski injury is for the Pats, they can go someplace warm and play golf tomorrow if something happens to Brady.

The stat

Brady was 7-for-7 Sunday for 137 yards and 2 TDs on Gronkowski targets.

Quote of the Week

Lovie Smith on why he believes the Bears' offensive line will improve: "Because we won seven games with that offensive line. That's why."

The truth

NFL Network's Deion Sanders, on the Eagles' defense: "There is no way you can have that much talent and play that atrociously."

This just in

Bud Selig nixes Miami signing of Juan Pierre, citing best interests of Marlins fans.

NHL bargaining

Talks were delayed Tuesday while Gary Bettman had the players explain the offside rule to him. Subsequently, commish announced new CBA will remove blue lines.

Best tweet

From @sportspickle: "Philip Rivers' internal clock is a sundial."

Best shot

From @TheFakeESPN: "Cowboys beat Browns in OT, which is like taking eight rounds to beat a corpse in a boxing match."

And finally

Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "Charlie Beljan won the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World despite suffering a panic attack during the second round. I'm trying to confirm the panic attack occurred when Beljan realized his prize money wouldn't be enough to take a family of four to Walt Disney World."

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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