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PHOTO: Will SI cover jinx strike Notre Dame one week after claiming Kansas State?

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

It's a striking piece of cover art. It's a fair tribute to the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation and its defiance of expectations (if obviously a little over the top with the "miracle" talk). It's the sort of thing that, if the Fighting Irish defeat USC to finish off a 12-0 regular season, will be featured in the framed memorabilia collection pieces of Irish fans for years to come.

But right now, after what happened to Kansas State last week? Ask 100 Notre Dame fans what they think about this Sports Illustrated cover, and the guess here is that 99 of them would rather find an IRS audit in their mailbox than find this:

Remember: this cover comes only a week after this hit newsstands ...

... and if "the best player on the nation's best team" maybe won't quite live in the kind of infamy as "why Oklahoma is unbeatable," it's a worthy successor all the same after Klein's and the Wildcats' collapse in Waco.

And remember that the SI cover jinx is always alive and well in college football. Of the five quarterbacks on the magazine's 2012 regional preview covers, AJ McCarron has had a perfectly fine season for Alabama ... but Matt Barkley and USC, Geno Smith and West Virginia, and Denard Robinson and Michigan have all fallen well short of expectations. It's likely Landry Jones and Oklahoma still cede the Big 12 to Klein and the Wildcats, too.

And after all, it's impossible to think of Sports Illustrated covers and Notre Dame without thinking of this September 2002 selection from the SI vault, isn't it?

Calling the Irish's 2012 season a "miracle" may be a nice sentiment. But after SI's decision, the Irish may prefer to keep (ahem) outside forces out of their football results for the time being.

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