Yeah, it would be nice and easy to hop on board, to chuck aside any doubts, any aspersions, to buy into the hype and just get on the all-hail Notre Dame train and ride it for who knows how long.

It would be smooth sailing all the way, with nary a nasty word to face for having the audacity to wonder, if not question, whether the Irish really were all that good.

But, thing is, in order to pull that off you kinda have to believe in the concept to some degree, or at least manipulate your mind into thinking you do … and both of those are lacking right here, right now – sorely lacking.

There is no arguing 12-0. Regardless of whether atrocious officiating directly accounted for two of those victories (against Stanford and Pittsburgh) and the worst example of poor clock management and red-zone play-calling this side of Andy Reid (hello, USC coach Lane Kiffin) had a major part in Saturday night’s regular-season finale at the L.A. Coliseum clinching a berth in the BCS title game on January 7, 2013, ND ran the table.

Help, no help, whatever. It doesn’t matter. The Irish played the cards they were dealt, and they came up aces every time. Whatever cosmic occurrence took place to make 2012 fall into place on the college football scene as it has thus far, they did what they needed to do in order to grab one of two seats at the main table, with a chance to claim a 12th national crown.

Kudos, indeed, are in order – just for getting to this point.

But that doesn’t mean we all have to buy into the never-ending ND fanfare, the romanticized propaganda of how everything is so much better with an Irish trademark on it … or even the notion that the Irish already have the championship in their back pocket, right next to the four-leaf clover.

To hear anyone associated with the broadcast of the Irish’s 22-13 win against Kiffin’s Trojans, you’d have thought Brian Kelly had, indeed, followed all these legendary coaching figures who had traveled through South Bend and brought the Irish to the promised land in his third season … and already conquered it.

Pssst, guys (and gals), that hasn’t happened yet.

Take a chill pill, and while you’re at it, could you relax on serving as a billion-dollar PR service for Irish LB Manti Te’o and his Heisman candidacy?

The fact anyone outside of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel has even been considered for that individual honor since the freshman QB single-handedly dismantled unbeatable Alabama and its impenetrable defense two weeks ago is ridiculous.

Te’o has had a wonderful college career and, keeping it real and recognizing NFL coaches aren’t the most innovative, chance-taking thinkers, is likely looking at a far better pro career than the undersized Houdini darting around for the Aggies is. But for anyone at this point to compare, well, anyone’s season to Johnny Football’s and do it with a straight face is downright comical.

The youngster, merely, has had a season to rival any in the history of the sport … and he’s put on such a performance while guiding A&M into the true big-boy conference, the SEC. Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Charlie Ward – ain’t none of them got a thing on this guy. Manziel is Xbox come to life. He’s a numbers-popping video game … with an uncanny knack to make something out of nothing – on virtually any down.

For the old heads out there, think Doug Flutie … with incredible wheels and the willingness to use them.

If anything, ND being a dominant, other-worldly outfit this fall should be an easier sell than Te’o topping Manziel for the Heisman.

But why not hold off on the final purchase until all the results are in?

Alabama and Georgia remain viable options at this point, and, for those who bleed Scarlet and Gray and have an affinity for those who break rules, Ohio State already is the best deal of all.


– After further review, maybe the lack of respect given the ACC this season was richly deserved. The circuit’s staple programs – Florida State and Clemson – were both 10-1 entering action Saturday night and were hosting in-state rivals Florida and South Carolina, respectively, of SEC ilk. They both ended action Saturday night 10-2 after double-digit losses, looking every bit the lighter weights they had been tagged as.

– Hat’s off to Penn State for honoring injured, and sidelined, senior LB Mike Mauti with a return to having a number on players’ helmets. It’s the first time since 1974 that the Lions did that, and this time it was everyone wearing Mauti’s number – 42. In a year that was as potentially devastating to a program as most can imagine, Mauti stepped up and served as the squad’s unquestioned leader.

– Sticking with State College news, the Lions may have uncovered their feature back for the next couple of seasons in Zach Zwinak. The bullish, but nimble sophomore was buried behind announced starter Bill Belton to begin the season, and had three carries total in the team’s first three games. By the time Saturday’s 24-21 OT victory finished, Zwinak was the owner of a 1,000-yard rushing season.

– With a blowout decision over Wake Forest on Saturday, Vanderbilt has eight wins for the first time since 1982. Among those, five were earned in the SEC – something Vandy hasn’t accomplished since 1935. Next up on the Commodores’ history-making campaign is matching the school’s all-time win mark of nine, set in 1904 and matched in 1915. They’ll get the chance during bowl season.

– In an ironic twist, the ACC’s all-time leading rusher – Montel Harris – managed to post his third 1,000-yard season at the college level, only this time it came with him suiting up for a team (Temple) in the Big East.

– Mississippi State started the season 7-0 and reached No. 11 in the polls. It proceeded to lose four of its next five, including a blowout loss Saturday to Mississippi in the annual Egg Bowl. Ouch.