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Irish wake up echoes of past success

Notre Dame needs one more victory for first national championship since 1988

November 26, 2012
By GREG BEACHAM , The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - After decades away, Notre Dame is back on top of college football - unmatched in the rankings, unblemished in the standings and unequivocally ready for a chance to end a national-championship drought that stands at 24 years.

"This is where you want to be when you go to Notre Dame," linebacker Manti Te'o said Saturday after the Fighting Irish beat Southern California 22-13 to complete their first unbeaten regular season since 1988, also the last championship year for the school.

The win at the Coliseum capped a 12-0 run that included a historic level of defensive dominance. The Notre Dame defense has allowed just nine touchdowns all season.

Article Photos

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te‘o had not yet been born the last time the Fighting Irish won a national championship.
AP photo

"You just put the ball down in front of us, and if there's time on the clock, we're never going to give up," defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said.

The Irish are No. 1 in The Associated Press poll released Sunday and atop the Bowl Championship Series standings, and have six weeks to prepare for the title game, scheduled for Jan. 7 in Miami. They will almost certainly face the winner of Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game between Georgia and Alabama.

The Crimson Tide, who won their second national title in three years last season, have the No. 2 spots in this week's poll and BCS standings, while the Bulldogs are third in both.

Fact Box

College football

1. Notre Dame (60)12-01,5001
2. Alabama11-11,4002
3. Georgia11-11,3313
4. Ohio St.12-01,2944
5. Florida11-11,2626
6. Oregon11-11,2425
7. Kansas St.10-11,0797
8. Stanford10-21,06111
9. LSU10-21,0568
10. Texas A&M10-21,0439
11. South Carolina10-291613
12. Oklahoma9-283414
13. Florida St.10-276410
14. Nebraska10-270417
15. Clemson10-266712
16. Oregon St.8-352816
17. UCLA9-350515
18. Kent St.11-135523
19. N. Illinois11-134924
20. Utah St.10-227425
21. Michigan8-421720
22. Northwestern9-3189
23. Texas8-318518
24. Oklahoma St.7-417422
25. Boise St.9-2145
Others receiving votes—San Jose St. 78, Louisville 73, TCU 67, Penn St. 61, Rutgers 50, Vanderbilt 48, San Diego St. 15, Fresno St. 12, Southern Cal 7, Arkansas St. 5, Arizona 4, Cincinnati 3, Ball St. 1, Mississippi St. 1, North Carolina 1.
1. Notre Dame0.99791
2. Alabama0.92362
3. Georgia0.89113
4. Florida0.88824
5. Oregon0.86265
6. Kansas St.0.77356
7. LSU0.73577
8. Stanford0.72998
9. Texas A&M0.68619
10. South Carolina0.668912
11. Oklahoma0.612913
12. Nebraska0.539314
13. Florida St.0.464510
14. Clemson0.457011
15. Oregon St.0.379015
16. UCLA0.330417
17. Kent St.0.251223
18. Texas0.249216
19. Michigan0.209419
20. Boise St.0.203022
21. N. Illinois0.1936
22. Northwestern0.1865
23. Oklahoma St.0.164621
24. Utah St.0.1171
25. San Jose St.0.0974

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is in his third year in South Bend after taking over a team that was coming off a 6-6 season.

"When you go in that locker room and are around the guys I'm around, you're not surprised," Kelly said. "The commitment they've made - they've done everything I've asked them to do. It doesn't surprise me anymore."

Te'o, who turns 22 in January, hadn't been born the last time the Irish won a national title. The Punahou School graduate nevertheless knows the date of the last championship by heart, thanks to the sign at the end of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium from which the home team enters the field.

"I'm just hoping that we can add our year to it," Te'o said. "But it's going to take a lot of work."



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