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College football notebook: Notre Dame future still unclear in BCS standings

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golsdid everything he needed do against Oklahoma. | AP

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson did everything he needed to do against Oklahoma. | AP

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Even though Notre Dame checked in at No. 3 in the BCS standings on Sunday, experts cautioned that this is only a temporary high-water mark for the Irish.

They expect No. 4 Oregon, which is No. 2 in both participating polls, to move up to No. 2 overall by the end of the season if the four unbeaten teams atop the standings end up winning out. The Ducks (.9136), who trail the Irish (.9147) by a thin margin, are unlikely to lose their position in the polls, which comprise two-thirds of the selection formula. And Oregon is a virtual lock to move up in the computer rankings with a difficult remaining schedule that includes No. 11 Oregon State, No. 14 Stanford and No. 17 USC in this week’s BCS rankings.

``I still feel Oregon will control its own destiny,’’ ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. ``If they win out, they ultimately will finish in the top two and be in the national title because they’re not going to drop in the two polls and they’re only going to go up in the computers.’’

CBSsports.com BCS analyst Jerry Palm shares that view.

``The battle has to be won with the voters,’’ Palm told the Sun-Times. ``The computers are going to take care of themselves. Right now, Notre Dame is fourth [in the polls]. That’s not an enviable position to be in. And they’re not really playing anybody the next few weeks that will cause voters to take notice.’’

Alabama (.9759) remains atop the BCS standings, followed by No. 2 Kansas State (.9400), which faces the same problem as the Irish regarding Oregon.

Huskers & Hoosiers

The big winner in the muddy Big Ten last weekend was Nebraska, which owns the tie-breaker with Michigan as well as Northwestern after knocking off the Wolverines 23-9 on Saturday. The No. 21 Cornhuskers join No. 6 Ohio State as the league’s only ranked teams.

Michigan has gone touchdown-less in two straight games for the first time in half a century after losing Denard Robinson in the second quarter at Nebraska. Robinson re-injured a nerve in his right (throwing) elbow late in the first half, leaving him unable to grip the football, but initial speculation was that he’ll be able to play at Minnesota on Saturday.

In a measure of how rough a season the Big Ten is having, Indiana heads into November with control of its own destiny. In the unlikely event that the Hoosiers, who won their first conference game since 2010 at Illinois on Saturday, win their final four games, they’ll earn a slot in the Big Ten championship game.

That situation was created when Wisconsin lost again to its nemesis, Michigan State, which has won three of four from the Badgers.

In the IneligiBowl, unbeaten Ohio State solidified its claim as the Big Ten’s best team by ending Penn State’s five-game winning streak in State College.

The Buckeyes also are in position to do more damage before they stay home for the holidays.

After being a heavy favorite to add to Illinois’ miseries under first-year coach Tim Beckman on Saturday, they’ll tee it up with Wisconsin and Michigan in their final two games.

The Badgers, who play their final two games against bowl-banned Ohio State and Penn State, could back into the Big Ten title game at 7-5, and still have a chance to go to their third straight Rose Bowl.

Ohio State also could put a damper on key rival Michigan’s flickering hopes of sneaking past Nebraska and into the conference title game.

Lattimore redshirt

Marcus Lattimore could return to football despite suffering a gruesome dislocated right knee vs. Tennessee Saturday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said, discounting speculation the Gamecocks’ star running back had sustained a career-ending injury. “We¹re all hoping and praying he¹ll be back,’’ Spurrier said Sunday. Lattimore, who has a redshirt season available, could return in 2014.

SUN-TIMES BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS

How frightful is the league? On Halloween, Indiana(!) controls its own destiny to league title.

LAST WEEK

1. Ohio State (9-0) 1

2. Nebraska (6-2) 4

3. Northwestern (7-2) 6

4. Michigan (5-3) 2

5. Penn State (5-3) 3

6. Michigan State (4-4) 8

7. Wisconsin (6-3) 5

8. Iowa (4-4) 7

9. Minnesota (5-3) 11

10. Indiana (3-5) 10

11. Purdue (3-5) 9

12. Illinois (2-6) 12



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