|Brian Kelly and the Irish are BCS title game bound after defeating USC on Saturday night. (US Presswire)|
It's been a long time coming for Notre Dame.
The storied program's last national title came in 1988 -- before every player on its current roster was born -- but the No. 1 Irish will have a chance to complete its return to glory thanks to a hard-fought 22-13 victory over USC in the Coliseum on Saturday night.
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With the win, the Irish moved to 12-0 and unofficially clinched their first-ever spot in the BCS national title game. All that remains to be decided is Notre Dame's opponent, which will be the winner of the SEC championship game next weekend between Alabama and Georgia.
It wasn't a cakewalk for Notre Dame by any means against the Trojans. It took five Kyle Brindza field goals, a career-high 146 rushing yards from Theo Riddick and a ferocious goal line stand with less than three minutes remaining to hold off USC, which was playing without an injured Matt Barkley.
As usual, the Irish defense set the tone and carried the night, holding the Trojans to just 281 total yards of total offense. Meanwhile, Everett Golson was efficient for the Irish, completing 15 of 26 passes for 217 yards, with many timely completions coming on third down.
Most Irish coaches have struck gold early -- Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz each won a national title in their third seasons with Notre Dame -- and it looks like Brian Kelly is right on schedule, with a chance to play for a title in his third year.
Quite an unlikely feat, when you think about it.
Some might even call it 'miraculous.'