Notre Dame has not been prone to such dominance displays: Eleven games into the season, Alabama and Oregon are both winning games by more points on average than the Irish are scoring, period. Only three of ND's eleven wins have come by more than three touchdowns; on the other hand, five of the eleven have been decided by a touchdown or less, and two have gone to overtime. The offense ranks 73rd nationally in scoring and has failed to top 20 points five times. Almost no one who has watched the Irish on a regular basis this year – especially those who watched them escape a triple-overtime upset bid from Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, which required both a 14-point rally by the Irish in the fourth quarter and a conveniently missed field goal that would have won the game for Pitt in the second overtime – has thought, "wow, this is a dominant team with a lot going for it."
After Saturday, what Notre Dame has going for it as the new standard bearer in college football is that it is the only contender that has managed to escape a spectacular, concentrated display of carnage at the top of the polls that instantly ranks among the bloodiest in the brief but extremely bloody history of the Bowl Championship Series.
One Foot Inbounds: The virtue of survival
At Football Outsiders, the weekly roundup is up, covering Notre Dame's improbable ascent to the top of the polls, plus weekly notes, a new top 25 and the Lowsman Trophy Watch.
By Matt Hinton