Potential issues for ND and Alabama?

Updated: November 4, 2012, 2:39 PM ET
By Travis Haney

I'm still trying to figure out how Alabama (21-17 over LSU) and Notre Dame (29-26 in triple overtime over Pittsburgh) each won to stay undefeated.

It made me think of Tennessee and its national championship season in 1998, a year littered with land mines. The Vols needed a field goal to beat Donovan McNabb and Syracuse in the opener; they needed Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner to lay the ball on the turf in the final minutes; and they needed a lot of help during conference championship weekend to even make the title game.

Every championship team needs some sort of magic to survive scares; it's part of the recipe when long and physical seasons are taken into account. The Tide and Irish each had a fright on Saturday, without question, and both found ways to win and remain among the four teams with the best shots to win a title.

But were the hiccups one-game aberrations? Or were they evidence of future danger?

In Notre Dame's case, the answer is obvious. It's a week-to-week adventure with those guys. Who knows which team will emerge? A week ago, I wrote about Everett Golson's coming of age at Oklahoma; Saturday, he played half the game and looked shaky against an average Big East opponent. The defense we'd lauded all year was shredded pretty thoroughly by Ray Graham, though Graham has looked healthier in recent weeks in his return from knee surgery.

The good news is the Irish now enter the ACC portion of their schedule. Boston College and Wake Forest make Pitt look like the '85 Bears. Then there's that all-important game against USC at the Coliseum.