Maybe it’s just time. After 23 years of change and craziness, with schools switching conferences at the drop of a hat, the likes of Boise State gaining national acclaim and the BCS system becoming the bane of major college football’s existence, maybe it’s just time.

Time for Notre Dame to rise to the top of the heap, time for the Irish to play for a championship, time for a little old-school normalcy, if not familiarity, to return … maybe, just maybe, it is.

How else do we explain the 2012 season, especially after this past weekend’s results that saw No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both go down? The fact that those two programs constituted the best in the sport midway through November says it all with how things are different from the last time the Irish were in the process of grabbing an 11th national title in 1988.

Lou Holtz patrolled the ND sideline like a raving lunatic back then instead of the ESPN studios as he does now.

Keeping the four-leaf clover locked away, accepting Holtz’s constant pandering for what it is and realizing that Manti Te’o is a wonderful player and leader but classically overhyped in the ND bandwagoning tradition, let’s try to keep it real here.

The Irish rest atop the polls and the BCS standings, alone and unblemished. They hardly pass the eye test as the best team, though.

They struggled against Purdue, Brigham Young and Pitt – all unranked – at home, and, in fact, needed three OTs to survive the wrath of the Panthers, the essence of a mediocre outfit if there ever was one. They should have lost to Stanford – again, at home – but prevailed in OT.

We are seeing good – often – with the Irish. We’re never seeing great. As many as 10 of the next 11 teams behind them in the BCS rankings have shown greatness at times this season – sorry, Florida … and Florida State and Clemson, well, no idea what to say, guys, but apparently the ACC carries no grid cred in the current setup.

Thing is, reality is what it is – no matter how they look, no matter what calls seemingly go their way to influence games in their favor, the Irish are No. 1.

So, deal with it … and plan on them staying that way for at least a couple more months. That regular-season undoing at the L.A. Coliseum – might as well scratch that off the list now with Southern Cal QB Matt Barkley out.


– Can we cut the silliness with other Heisman candidates existing beyond Texas A&M freshman QB Johnny Manziel? The kid completely turned the nation on its ear by leading the Aggies past reputedly infallible Alabama two weeks ago, and did it in dominating style – just as he has all season. The fact Kansas State QB Collin Klein was being said to be the favorite entering this past week was ridiculous. Now we got people like Holtz pushing Ohio State’s Braxton Miller? Puh-leeze …

– Kudos to Temple RB Montel Harris – the grad-student transfer from Boston College, where he became the ACC’s leading rusher, went off for 351 yards and seven TDs on 36 carries during the Owls’ 63-32 win at Army on Saturday afternoon. The yardage total was a school record, topping the 349 Paul Palmer posted in 1986. The TD total was one shy of the NCAA record, set by Roberth Griffith of Illinois.

– Talk about “getting it done.” Syracuse, down 27-24, at Missouri, took possession at its own 18 with 1:52 remaining. Seven plays, four completed passes, including a fourth-and-10, later, the Orange were looking at a 31-27 victory and their second bowl in three seasons. QB Ryan Nassib went 4-for-7 on the drive, all to Alec Lemon, to cover the 82 yards.

– Kinda hard to grasp ex-Minnesota WR A.J. Barker’s good-bye note to coach Jerry Kill plastered all over social media. Many seem to view it as a condemnation of Kill and his, for lack of better phrasing, motivational tactics. The junior plans to transfer, but you almost have to wonder what he hopes to find elsewhere. His words on Kill probably could be used to describe many coaches.