Nothing but daylight for Notre Dame

Updated: November 18, 2012, 7:41 PM ET
By Travis Haney

Thanks to another shake-up Saturday, the first time the BCS Nos. 1 and 2 lost on the same day since 2007, we don't have to wait until January 2015 to experience a college football playoff.

Some facsimile of it is here. Now.

Semifinal 1: Notre Dame plays at USC this weekend. If the Irish win, they will play in the BCS title game. Simple as that.

Semifinal 2: The winner of the Dec. 1 SEC championship game in Atlanta will occupy the second spot. That's easy, too.

Granted, USC doesn't have a place in this semifinal round -- although it was expected to, originally -- but you can see why it would be considered some version of a playoff for three of the four teams. If that terminology bugs you, there are direct play-in implications for the season's final couple of weeks.

Really, think how many puzzle pieces had to lock into place for that to happen, not the least of which were Saturday's upsets of No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon.

I knew the shake-up was coming. I threw it out on TV during the week that it would be Nov. 24, with Oregon State and USC creating the chaos, but it turned out to be sooner.

Still, another quake could be on the way.

Where the whole picture goes to static -- where everything then escapes the pseudo four-team playoff -- is if USC does upset Notre Dame. Our BCS wizard Brad Edwards might currently be locked in a closet somewhere in Bristol, trying to figure out who would go to Miami in that event.

The amazing thing is that, a week after being counted out by the general public (I even had to talk a Bama gal into believing her team wasn't toast), another all-SEC final went from far-flung to somewhat possible.

It would be a distinct possibility if not for USC quarterback Matt Barkley's injured shoulder casting doubt as to whether he'll play against the Irish. Without Barkley, that chore for USC seems a lot more taxing.

Let's just say, though, that Lane Kiffin rallies his team for a victory. After Tino Sunseri kept Pitt in the game against the Irish, perhaps the torch will be passed this week from Barkley to Max Wittek.

So, what if USC does improbably win? What, then? Who would be most likely to play the winner of Alabama and Georgia at whatever they're calling Joe Robbie Stadium these days?

Let's begin the Takeaways there...