MCLEAN, Va., Nov. 26 (UPI) —
Notre Dame, the only post-season-eligible college undefeated football team, is just short of being a unanimous No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches’ football poll.
The Fighting Irish (12-0) completed a perfect regular season with a 22-13 win at Southern California and appear a lock to be selected for the BCS Championship game Jan. 7 in Miami.
Ohio State is also 12-0 but on NCAA probation and ineligible for post-season consideration.
Notre Dame’s championship-game opponent will likely be No. 2 Alabama (11-1) or No. 3 Georgia (11-1), who play this week in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Notre Dame picked up 56 of the 59 first-place votes with two going to Alabama and one to Georgia. That is the same distribution as a week ago.
Oregon (11-1) remains in fourth, locked out of the Pac-12 Championship and, likely, the BCS final. Florida (11-1) and Louisiana State (11-1) both improve one spot to fifth and sixth, respectively, giving the SEC four of the first six teams in the rankings.
Kansas State (10-1) is up one place to seventh while Texas A&M (10-2) is eighth, followed by No. 9 Stanford (10-2) and 10th-ranked South Carolina (10-2). Texas A&M and South Carolina give the SEC six of the Top 10.
Oklahoma (9-2) takes the No. 11 ranking while Florida State (10-2), after a loss to Florida, drops five places to 12th. Nebraska (10-2) comes in 13th ahead of No. 14 Clemson (10-2), which was ninth last week. Boise State (9-2) was idle but jumps seven rungs to 15th.
UCLA (9-3) and Oregon State (8-3) remain 16th and 17th, respectively, but Northern Illinois (11-1) goes from 23rd to No. 18 and Mid-American rival Kent State (11-1) moves up six places to 19th. Northwestern (9-3) re-enters the poll at No. 20.
Texas (8-3) slips from 15th to No. 21 and Utah State (10-2), which didn’t receive as much as one vote until Oct. 29, is placed 22nd. Louisville (9-2) drops from 18th to No. 23 Michigan (8-4) comes in 24th and Rutgers (9-2) is 25th.
Oklahoma State and Mississippi State drop out of the rankings this week.
The SEC Championship demands the most attention but other key games this week have Stanford and UCLA playing for the Pac-12 title and Kent State and Northern Illinois meeting for the MAC championship. Both of those games are Friday. Louisville and Rutgers play Thursday to decide the Big East winner. Also, Texas travels to Kansas State.