A big win against Notre Dame has all but guaranteed Southern California a berth in a Bowl Championship Series game. And the loss left the Irish needing a little luck to make it that far.
The Trojans (10-2) moved up two spots to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings, released Monday. Miami (11-0) and Ohio State (13-0) remained the top two teams, and Georgia (11-1) moved up one spot to No. 3.
"It's a great situation for us right now, even though nothing is set yet and we realize that," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "It's a reward to our players and our program. It's fun, the anticipation of finding out where we're going."
Miami has 3.53 points, and a win against Virginia Tech (9-3) at home Saturday gives it a berth in the Fiesta Bowl to play Ohio State for the national championship Jan. 3.
Ohio State has 4.01 points and Georgia has 9.03 points. Oklahoma (10-2) dropped four spots to No. 7 after losing 38-28 to Oklahoma State. If Miami loses and Georgia beats Arkansas (9-3) in the SEC Championship game Saturday, the Bulldogs would play the Buckeyes for the national title.
The final BCS standings will be released Sunday.
Iowa (11-1), which remained No. 5, needs help to guarantee itself a BCS spot.
The Trojans beat Notre Dame 44-13 and moved up for several reasons. Their poll average went down one point from 6 to 5, and their computer average was lowered from 5.33 to 3.0 this week. USC also has the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country and received a 0.2 bonus-point deduction for the win over Notre Dame.
USC looks like it will make a BCS bowl in any situation. The top three BCS teams automatically receive a BCS berth. The top four BCS teams are guaranteed a BCS berth if the first three are automatic qualifiers. Miami and Ohio State already have qualified automatically after winning the Big East and Big Ten, respectively.
Here are several scenarios, assuming Miami beats Virginia Tech. If Georgia defeats Arkansas, the Bulldogs would win the SEC and USC would then receive an at-large BCS selection. If Georgia loses, USC would move up to No. 3 and be guaranteed a spot.