Being No. 1 isn't new for Notre Dame, but it's unprecedented in the Bowl Championship Series era.
On Sunday night the Irish made their first appearance in the top spot of the BCS rankings as the nation's lone unbeaten among bowl eligible programs fighting for a national championship. In the past 14 years, the team ranked No. 1 at this stage of the season has gone on to play for the championship a dozen times.
Notre Dame finishes the regular season at unranked USC next weekend against a Trojans program that was a preseason pick for No. 1. Lane Kiffin may be without starting quarterback Matt Barkley after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the fourth quarter against UCLA.
Win at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 24 and Notre Dame will play for its first national championship since the unbeaten season of 1988. ESPN reported the Irish would be a 10-point underdog against Alabama and that Notre Dame would be an underdog against all five SEC teams ranked in the top 10.
Following Notre Dame, the top of the BCS has 2. Alabama, 3. Georgia, 4. Florida, 5. Oregon, 6. Kansas State, 7. LSU, 8. Stanford, 9. Texas A&M and 10. Florida State.
Barring another weekend of massive upsets, Notre Dame knocking off USC next weekend would match the Irish against the winner of Alabama-Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Georgia has already clinched a spot in the league title game. Alabama only needs to beat reeling Auburn.
While Notre Dame was a unanimous No. 1 pick by the computers (and the Associated Press), the Irish didn't get every first-place vote in the Harris Poll or the Coaches Poll. In the Harris Poll, Notre Dame took home 107 of 115 first-place votes, with eight going to Alabama. In the Coaches Poll, Notre Dame got 56 of the 59 first-place votes. Alabama received two first-place votes and Georgia got one.