Notre Dame couldn't be playing much better three games into the season; at 3-0, it has matched its best start in a decade. But the Fighting Irish's next opponent -- Michigan -- has given them trouble in recent years. The Wolverines have won three in a row and five of the last six in the series.
A defeat usually signals doom for Notre Dame's BCS aspirations. One loss usually is all it would take to keep the Irish out of the top eight in the BCS rankings, where it needs to finish to guarantee a spot in a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2006. But Notre Dame's strength of schedule -- if it doesn't end up being its own curse -- could be enough this year to provide a margin of error needed to get back in the BCS should it suffer a loss.
After last weekend's upset of then-No. 10 Michigan State, a loss to the 18th-ranked Wolverines (2-1) would be a setback for the 11th-ranked Irish. But they still have more than their fair share of potential resume-building victories, with Miami and BYU both coming to South Bend, sandwiching a visit by No. 9 Stanford.
Notre Dame's three final road games are much more unforgiving. Boston College is never easy, and surviving both No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 13 Southern Cal is possible but not expected.
That said, should the Irish wind up with two losses, both to ranked teams, it should be enough to stay in the BCS' top 14, where they would be eligible for an at-large BCS berth they almost certainly would receive.
- Craig Stouffer