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Irish's next foe likely to be SEC team

LOS ANGELES – And now Notre Dame waits.

The Irish (12-0) completed their first undefeated regular season since 1988 with Saturday night's 22-13 victory at USC (7-5).

The spotless record kept Notre Dame at the top of the BCS standings for a second straight week and put it in the Jan. 7 BCS championship game in Miami.

As for the Irish's opponent for their first title in 24 years, it will likely come out of the SEC.

Alabama (11-1) was No. 2 in the BCS standings, .0743 percentage points behind Notre Dame (.9979-.9236), and Georgia (11-1) was No. 3 in the standings .1068 behind the Irish (.9979-.8911) and .0325 behind the Crimson Tide (.9236-.8911).

The Tide and Bulldogs play in the SEC championship game on Saturday in Atlanta with the winner likely to face the Irish for the title.

But coach Brian Kelly wasn't worried about who his team's opponent would be as he has a chance to lead Notre Dame to a championship in his third season just like former Irish coaches Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz.

"When things were out of our control (this season) we just focused on ourselves, and we'll do this going into the next stage for us, assuming that we're playing in another game for the national championship," Kelly said. "We will focus on us. It won't be alright it's this team or that team. We got to figure out over the next six weeks how we get better as a football team."

The Irish also remained at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today coaches poll. Only the coaches poll factors into the BCS standings.

Notre Dame took all 60 first-place votes in the AP poll, and the Irish collected 56 of the 59 first-place votes in the coaches poll. Alabama, which received two first-place votes in the coaches poll, and Georgia, which got one first-place vote from the coaches, were behind Notre Dame in both polls.

The AP top five was filled out with Ohio State (12-0), which cannot receive votes in the coaches poll because of sanctions, and Florida (11-1). The coaches poll top five was filled out with Oregon (11-1) and Florida.

tkrausz@jg.net

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