One obstacle remains in Notre Dame's path to the BCS championship game thanks to a pair of Saturday night upsets.
Hours after the No. 3 Irish demolished Wake Forest 38-0 to finish undefeated at home for the first time since 1998, Kansas State and Oregon suffered their first losses of the season.
Kansas State (10-1), which came into the weekend No. 1 in the BCS standings, was crushed 52-24 by Baylor, and Oregon (10-1), which was No. 2 in the BCS, fell 17-14 in overtime to Stanford.
Notre Dame (11-0) will likely move to No. 1 in the BCS standings, which are released Sunday night, and will need to defeat USC in Los Angeles in the regular-season finale Saturday to secure a spot in the title game.
"We understand it. There is no next week. It's USC," linebacker Manti Te'o said after the Irish's victory and before K-State and Oregon last Saturday night. "There is no game after that. If we take care of USC, we'll be fine. All we have to do is take care of USC and prepare the right way. USC is a really good team, as we all know.
"The USC-Notre Dame game is always a battle. So we understand that and we're going to prepare the way we know how."
Notre Dame will also likely be No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1993 when it lost its final game of that season 41-39 to Boston College at home. The AP will release its poll Sunday afternoon.
Irish coach Brian Kelly will also likely be joined by his peers in voting for his team as No. 1 in the USA Today coaches poll, which will also reveal its latest poll Sunday afternoon. Kelly was the lone voter to rank Notre Dame No. 1 last week after Alabama, which will likely moved to No. 2 in the BCS standings Sunday night, was upset by Texas A&M.
"I told them tonight I'm proud of them," Kelly said. "I voted them No. 1 for a reason, because I think they're the best team in the country. I think they played like that tonight."
Notre Dame cruised past Wake Forest (5-6) in its home finale, racking up 584 yards and building a 31-0 lead at half time.
The Irish's 38-0 victory was their first shutout win since opening the 2009 season by beating Nevada 35-0.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson completed 20 of 30 passes for 346 yards with touchdown passes for 2 yards to tight end Tyler Eifert, a Bishop Dwenger grad, 50 yards to receiver John Goodman, another Dwenger alum, and 34 yards to TJ Jones.
Cierre Wood opened the offensive explosion with a 68-yard touchdown run less than 2 minutes into the game as he finished with 150 rushing yards on 11 carries. Kyle Brindza kicked a 25-yard field goal, and George Atkinson III ran in a 9-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
"I thought everything came together today," Golson said.
Now everything is in place for Notre Dame to play for its first national title since 1988 as long as the Irish can defeat USC for a second time in three years.
"They cannot do anything else but beat USC," said Kelly, who led Notre Dame to a 20-16 victory at USC in his first season with the program in 2010.