The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is going away after next year. It's probably not coming back for a long, long time. Say what you will about the two winningest programs in college football history, but their annual clash has never gone unnoticed, and it's always had an outsized impact.
A year ago, Notre Dame buried Michigan under an avalanche of turnovers, and the 13-6 victory propelled the Irish to a 12-0 regular season and a spot in the BCS championship game. It's arguable that had Denard Robinson not turned the ball over five times all by himself, there would not have been a Notre Dame renaissance and a contract extension for coach Brian Kelly.
Could their thrilling 41-30 victory this year have a similar trampoline effect for the Wolverines? You bet.
Michigan closed in on the top 10 in the polls on Sunday and now checks in at No. 11 in the latest simulated BCS standings. A year ago, Notre Dame jumped up to No. 9 in the simulated standings after its Week 4 victory over Michigan.
|44||28||Penn State ^||0||35||0.0047||0||0.0016|
|55||32||San Jose State||0||0||17||0||0|
Keys: Pvs = Previous Week; Coaches = USA Today Coaches Poll; AP = Associated Press Top 25; Md = Median ranking of 26 computer ratings; CM = Colley Matrix; JS = Jeff Sagarin; KM = Kenneth Massey; RB = Richard Billingsley; Cp Avg = Computer Average.
Explanation: This rankings method is a simulation of the actual BCS standings, with the following variations: 1) The AP Poll is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll, which is not published until after the first weekend of October; 2) Four of the six BCS computer ratings are available - Colley Matrix, Jeff Sagarin, Kenneth Massey and Richard Billingsley; 3) The other two computer ratings - Anderson & Hester and Peter Wolfe - will not be available until late-September or October, so they're replaced by the median ranking of 26 computer ratings.
^ Penn State is ineligible for inclusion in official BCS standings.
A soft stretch of games now awaits the Wolverines, who likely won't be challenged again until a brutal November that could feature games against four ranked teams. But by then Michigan could be riding on a crest of momentum with a 7-0 record, similar to how Notre Dame cracked the top five when the first official standings were released in Week 7 and stayed there for the duration.
The improved play by the Big Ten, which went 11-1 on Saturday, will help the conference's top dogs, which besides Michigan include No. 7 Ohio State, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 22 Nebraska and upstart Northwestern, off to a 2-0 start and checking in at No. 15. The way the schedule is shaping up, don't be surprised if another traditional rivalry matchup -- this one not going anywhere -- has heavy BCS implications. Ohio State visits the Big House on Nov. 30, and it's even possible that those two teams will have a rematch a week later in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title and, potentially, a spot in the BCS title game.
Week 3's BCS impact
But before we get there, we have a rare September showdown that has so much hype and impact it makes last week's Michigan-Notre Dame matchup seem, oh, so JV-ish. We'll just give it a mention, among other key BCS games in Week 3 (rankings in simulated BCS standings):
No. 2 Alabama at No. 6 Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): With two more BCS computer rankings available now, Oregon jumped Alabama as the new No. 1 team for the time being. But until the two-time defending champs lose a game, the Tide will still be everybody's No. 1. As long as the game is close, the loser will not be out of the race for the BCS title. And despite all his offseason travails, Johnny Manziel seems to be in fine form after 1.5 games.
No. 17 UCLA at No. 22 Nebraska (Noon, ABC): The Bruins are flying under the radar, but they might be one of the best teams in the country. With crosstown rival USC imploding already, UCLA looks to be the odds-on favorite to win the Pac-12 South. An emphatic win in Lincoln will go a long way toward burnishing its national credentials.
No. 19 Notre Dame at Purdue (8 p.m., ABC): Despite the dispiriting loss at Michigan, Notre Dame is not out of the running for a BCS bowl. The Irish will need to bounce back quickly, and they must take a near-sure thing when they can -- such as this one -- because the rest of the schedule isn't going to get any easier.
Vanderbilt at No. 14 South Carolina (7 p.m. ESPN): South Carolina had the biggest tumble, dropping nine spots in the simulated standings after a hard-fought loss to Georgia. The SEC East title is still very much within their grasp, but the Gamecocks can't afford to overlook a Vandy team that might be dealing with some off-the-field distractions.
No. 23 Washington vs. Illinois at Chicago (6 p.m., BTN): This will be one of four games pitting Big Ten and Pac-12 teams on Saturday and, as both conferences harbor hopes of sending a team to the BCS title game, every little bit matters. Both the Huskies (with a win over Boise State) and Illini (2-0) are off to surprisingly good starts and will want to keep things rolling.